Mark your calendars: The much-anticipated mixed-martial arts bout between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and (former college wrestler) Justin Gaethje is now set.
UFC president Dana White told CNN on Tuesday that the fight will take place Saturday, Oct. 24. The site is yet to be announced.
"That fight's going to happen," White said during an appearance on CNN. "Khabib vs. Gaethje, Oct. 24."
A native of Dagestan, the 31-year-old Nurmagomedow brings a 28-0 12-0 UFC record to his match with Gaethje. He previous match was Sept. 7, when he submitted Dustin Poirier in the third round.
Gaethje, also 31, fights out of Colorado and sports a 22-2 , 5-2 UFC record. He earned the interim belt and title shot vs. Nurmagomedow with a fifth-round TKO of Tony Ferguson on May 9.
Nurmagomedow has faced challenges in recent months which have been complicating factors in scheduling this upcoming match vs. Gaethje, as Dana White pointed out in his announcement this week of the just-announced late-October lightweight title bout.
For starters, the sports world -- including MMA -- has pretty much been on shutdown for the past few months because of the coronavirus pandemic. When the UFC did return, Nurmagomedov, a Muslim, was still observing Ramadan, which meant fasting and little MMA training. Ramadan ended May 23.
That same month, Nurmagomedov's father, Abdulmanap, was hospitalized in Moscow after heart surgery for a preexisting condition further complicated by COVID-19. He died July 3.
"It's been very rough on him," White said of Nurmagomedov. "Everybody is close to their parents and everything, but his father was a hero to him. He loved his father. They had a very close relationship, and it was very hard on him."
Gaethje's amateur wrestling background
Justin Gaethje first took up wrestling at the age of 4 ... and participated in wrestling in at Safford High School where he was a four-time Arizona state finalist and twice a state champ, compiling an impressive 191-1 overall record).
After high school, Gaethje enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado, a NCAA Division I program. As a freshman, he built a 18-9 overall record. As a sophomore, he qualified for the 2009 NCAA 157-pound championship, with a record of 0-2. As a junior, Gaethje went 5-2 at the 2010 NCAA Division I 157-pound championship to earn seventh place and All-American status. Just this summer -- years after concluding his collegiate mat career -- Gaethje was announced as an inductee into the University of Northern Colorado Athletics Hall of Fame for his achievements in wrestling.