Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett confirmed that Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Tukhugov, who were suspended for entering the Octagon and exchanging blows with Conor McGregor following his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018, each had their one-year suspensions dropped by 35 days after a community service agreement was approved at a NSAC meeting in Las Vegas.
The timing of the 35-day reduction request is no coincidence.
The UFC is attempting to strike a deal with Khabib Nurmagomedov to defend his lightweight title against interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi, and he has said publicly that he would not return to the Octagon until his teammates were cleared from their suspensions.
Wednesday’s developments in Las Vegas would allow Khabib Nurmagomedov, whose nine-month suspension will be up in July, to fight at UFC 242 and keep his word.
“We are close on Khabib’s next fight,” Ali Abdelaziz, who manages the Nurmagomedovs and Tukhugov, told ESPN when asked Wednesday about Poirier. “I need to meet with [UFC president] Dana White soon, but we will hopefully have some news to announce very soon.
“If everything goes according to plan, I believe Khabib’s next fight after Dustin will be against [currently retired] Georges St-Pierre in December for the lightweight title and undisputed greatest of all time. Khabib cares about legacy, and how can you say any other fight would mean more to his legacy than this?”
Bennett said representatives of the fighters reached out to him about getting a reduced suspension, stating that community service had not been offered in the initial adjudication agreement. Bennett called it a “fair and equitable” request, so he brought it to NSAC chairman Anthony Marnell III and the commissioners Wednesday.
Bennett said the 10 hours of community service to be performed by Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Tukhugov must be approved by the NSAC, and that it must be constructive work with youth and could include self-defense and anti-bullying messages.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto contributed to this report.