Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially retired, UFC president Dana White has confirmed.
The lightweight champion leaves the sport on a 29-0 record with Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira set to fight for the vacant belt.
He is per cent officially retired,” White wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of the two of them.
“It was incredible to watch you work Khabib Nurmagomedov, thank you for everything and enjoy whatever is next my friend.”
Nurmagomedov, who defended his title three times, had announced his retirement from mixed martial arts when he beat Justin Gaethje in October, but White had hoped he would change his mind.
Chandler made his UFC debut on Fight Island in January when he beat Dan Hooker in front of Khabib and even called him out immediately after.
He is a former three-time Bellator MMA lightweight champion, while Oliveira is on an eight-fight win streak and last beat Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 in December.
News that Chandler and Oliveira are likely to fight for the title, at UFC 262 on 15 May, means it is almost certain Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will fight for a third time and complete their trilogy.
White has previously said McGregor is ‘obsessed’ at getting the chance to avenge his most recent loss when he was knocked out in the second round.
The boss, though, has been adamant the trilogy would not be for a title.
“These guys are all going to fight it out, we’ll narrow it down to the two guys who will face off for the title,” he said in February.
It now looks like that is Chandler and Oliveira.