LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conor McGregor will return to mixed martial arts on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas for a title bout against UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The UFC dramatically announced the matchup Friday with a promotional video to close a news conference promoting its slate of fight cards for the rest of 2018.
“The fight is done,” UFC President Dana White said.
McGregor (21-3) won the featherweight and lightweight championships during his meteoric MMA career, but he hasn’t fought in the UFC since taking the 155-pound lightweight belt from Eddie Alvarez in November 2016. The loquacious Irishman hasn’t competed at all since losing his lucrative boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August 2017, and his lightweight title was stripped and subsequently claimed by Nurmagomedov in April.
McGregor and Nurmagomedov will meet in the main event of the UFC 229 pay-per-view show at T-Mobile Arena, the same spot where Mayweather stopped McGregor in the 10th round of their one-sided prizefight.
McGregor also has resolved his legal troubles after throwing a hand truck at a bus containing UFC fighters last April in Brooklyn. Nurmagomedov was the intended target of McGregor’s wrath after a previous spat between the fighters’ camps.
Nurmagomedov (26-0), who wasn’t on the bus, won the vacant lightweight belt by beating Al Iaquinta in Brooklyn two days after McGregor’s bus attack, which injured uninvolved fighters Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg. McGregor eventually was sentenced to perform five days of community service, avoiding jail time.
Nurmagomedov, the Dagestani-born Russian champion, has been one of the pound-for-pound greats of MMA when healthy, racking up 10 consecutive victories since joining the UFC.
McGregor and Nurmagomedov weren’t at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles along with the other headlining fighters of the autumn cards, but the announcement of their bout set off wild cheering among the fans.
Nurmagomedov is a formidable challenger for McGregor in a return from a 23-month break in MMA competition, but McGregor has never backed down from a challenge.
Once McGregor resolved to return to the octagon earlier this year, Nurmagomedov was the obvious choice to be his next opponent — but the biggest obstacle to this bout appeared to be money. Negotiations for this bout dragged on for many weeks while McGregor argued a highly lucrative deal, even demanding an ownership stake in the UFC in exchange for returning to the cage, and Nurmagomedov also asked for a hefty raise.
White didn’t immediately disclose terms of the deal that was reached.
Follow Greg Beacham on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gregbeacham