UFC makes fight switch to avoid Conor McGregor clashing with Khabib Nurmagomedov

A potentially explosive clash between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor has been avoided after the UFC removed the lightweight champion's cousin Umar's fight from the UFC 257 card.

The younger Nurmagomedov will now take on Sergey Morozov three days earlier on January 20 in Abu Dhabi.

The 25-year-old will make his UFC debut at the fourth time of asking after three previous attempts were cancelled.

And with the likelihood of his older cousin being in attendance at the Emirates Arena where McGregor will take on Dustin Poirier, the UFC appears to be taking no chances.

Their 155lb champion will hold talks with president Dana White this week to establish whether he can be convinced to return for a 30th fight in mixed martial arts.

Nurmagomedov announced his retirement following his third-round win over Justin Gaethje last October but White hopes he will reverse his decision.

Should he do so, and if McGregor beats Poirier for a second time, White hopes Nurmagomedov will agree to a sequel with the Irishman.

The rivals' bitter feud came to a head in 2018 when the Dagestan native won their grudge match with a fourth-round submission.

But their row continued after the fight when a riot broke out in the Octagon before spilling over into the Las Vegas arena.

Nurmagomedov has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in facing McGregor again – but White has different plans.

"I'm obviously meeting with him because I think that he should fight again," he told ESPN. "Look at what he did to Justin Gaethje.

"Look at what he's done to every opponent he has faced. … I think he should fight again and I'm going to press him as hard as I can for one more.

"As a promoter, you always want to see the best guys in the world, but at the same time, when a guy wants to retire, he probably should.

"The difference with a guy like Khabib is he's been through so much, and losing his dad was a major blow to him. Yet, his dad wanted him to hit 30-0.

"No matter what you think of Conor personally, Conor McGregor is not only one of the best in the world, but one of the best to ever do it.

"And right now, he's as focused as he's ever been. I don't know if this is going to be the same Conor after the Poirier fight, but if this Conor sticks around for the next year, how do you not do Khabib vs Conor again?"

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