The showdown between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje has been expected for months, with the only question being when it would happen. Now the fight date is set.
UFC president Dana White told CNN on Tuesday that the fight will be Oct. 24, with no venue announced.
“That fight’s going to happen,” White said during an appearance on CNN. “Khabib vs. Gaethje, Oct. 24.”
Nurmagomedov (28-0), a 31-year-old out of Dagestan, most recently fought Sept. 7, submitting Dustin Poirier in the third round.
Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has paused much of the sports world, and when the UFC did return, Nurmagomedov, a Muslim, was still observing Ramadan, which meant fasting and little MMA training. Ramadan ended May 23.
That same month, Nurmagomedov’s father, Abdulmanap, was hospitalized in Moscow after heart surgery for a preexisting condition further complicated by COVID-19. He died July 3.
“It’s been very rough on him,” White said of Nurmagomedov. “Everybody is close to their parents and everything, but his father was a hero to him. He loved his father. They had a very close relationship, and it was very hard on him.”
Gaethje (22-2), who is 31 and fights out of Colorado, earned the interim belt and title shot with a fifth-round TKO of Tony Ferguson on May 9.