KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV is set to fight Justin Gaethje this year despite the tragic recent death of his father.
That is according to UFC boss Dana White, who expects the showdown to main event the upcoming UFC 253 pay-per-view.
That is due to take place on Fight Island on September 19 – and the highly-anticipated lightweight title clash is scheduled.
Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, was placed in a medically-induced coma after being admitted to the hospital in May in Moscow.
He underwent emergency bypass surgery as doctors stabilised his condition.
However, the MMA coach lost his battle for life last month to leave his family devastated.
‘The Eagle’ has not been heard from since.
He said: “I don’t think it’s off the table. I’m just waiting to hear from him. I’m not messing with Khabib.
“I’m leaving him alone until he’s ready to talk and letting him mourn and do what he has to do.
“I reached out to him the day of … I haven’t heard back from him since.”
Khabib’s last fight was in Abu Dhabi in September 2019 when the unbeaten star defeated Dustin Poirier.
Gaethje stepped in to replace the Dagestani against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
He beat the ‘Boogeyman’ via technical knockout to set up his shot at Khabib.