Chael Sonnen Eyes Khabib Nurmagomedov Return for UFC 300 Title Fight

Ex-UFC fighter-turned-pundit Chael Sonnen has a theory for why the UFC welterweight title fight between Belal Muhammad and Leon Edwards hasn’t been officially announced for UFC 300 yet.

Despite Edwards remarking that he’ll be defending his belt at the UFC’s tricentennial event, no news has come about of his booking. After some deliberation, Sonnen believes this could be due to the UFC having other plans for the British-Jamaican fighter.

“Coach Javier Mendez, owner and leader of the American Kickboxing Academy (ACA), came out in an interview and said that Khabib [Nurmagomedov] is back training,” Sonnen exclaimed on YouTube on January 12. “He said ‘Khabib always goes to practice but he only trains with me when he’s getting ready for a fight.'”

Sonnen believes Nurmagomedov’s return to training could correlate with Edwards’ delayed booking:

“There is some reason that Leon vs. Belal did not get made. It was expected and it was planned, something became available…” Sonnen continued. “This is nothing more than a rumor but it’s a rumor that came from coach Mendez…. Who says ‘I don’t train him unless it’s for a fight.’… [Dana White’s] not putting on UFC 300 without a title on top of the bill.”

Khabib Nurmagomedov retired on a win against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Zuffa Llc, via Getty Images

Nurmagomedov retired early in the eyes of many fight fans. Despite owning a record of 29-0, “The Eagle” only defended his lightweight throne three times before calling quits. He remains one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in the history of the sport with many remarking that he hadn’t faced the best competition there was to offer. If Nurmagomedov did return and defeated Edwards, it would cement his legacy as one of, if not the best lightweight fighter to ever grace the UFC.

However, the grounds on which Nurmagomedov retired make it tricky to call his return realistic. After the passing of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Khabib’s father, the Dagestani phenom made a promise to his mother that he wouldn’t fight again:

“She doesn’t want me to go and fight without my father,” Nurmagomedov explained in his retirement speech. “But I promise her it’s going to be my last fight. And if I keep my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here [in the UFC].”

It would also be incredibly unfair for Muhammad, who has earned his rematch against Edwards whole-heartedly. “Remember The Name” is on a nine-fight win streak (discounting his NC to Edwards), and duly believes he’s next in line for “Rocky”.

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Mathew Riddle