Khabib Nurmagomedov suggested he may soon vacate his belt by reiterating he does not want to “hold up” the UFC’s lightweight division.
The Russian is still recognised as the 155lb champion despite retiring from the sport last October after a dominant victory over Justin Gaethje.
Since then, leading lightweight contenders Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier faced off at UFC 257 in January.
Poirier won the fight via second-round TKO and both men – who first fought in 2014 – have talked up a trilogy fight to conclude their rivalry.
ESPN claims a third bout between Amercian Poirier and Irishman McGregor is in the works – and the latest comments by Khabib hint it could be for the vacant lightweight belt.
“I’m focused on my own big projects, four or five of them. I have to spend time on them,” Khabib told Russian outlet Match TV, per RT Sport.
“As for my career as a fighter, I don’t want to go into details. Dana [White, UFC president] is an honest person; we always had an honest relationship. I think he’ll let the media know the message that I sent him a week ago.
“It’s not a secret. I just told him how I’d like things to develop, not only related to me but the lightweight division in general. I told him I don’t want the division to be held up.
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“But, on the other hand, fighters have only just been in action, and people already understand in general who we’ll see fighting for the title.
“I know they’re already making plans, I think for around May or June, for a title fight. But between who?”
Meanwhile, Khabib confirmed Dana White has made a plan for the lightweight division which could be made public in late February.
The Dagestan native – who retired with a flawless professional record of 29 wins without loss – also claimed Poirier “deserves to be champion”.
Khabib added: “Look at who he’s fought. Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway. He’s fought me, Conor. These are all top fighters, maybe fighters who will end up in the UFC Hall of Fame.
“I think intrigue will appear in the lightweight division as soon as they decide the title fight and eliminator.
“At the moment, it’s held up and not clear what Dana’s thinking. I think it’s going to be on fire in the lightweight division this summer.
“The lightweight division has always been the most competitive, the most interesting, with big stars. It will take new turns this summer.”