Dana White is doubling down on his claim Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to the Octagon -- and he's willing to put his money where his mouth is!
"If I had to make a bet -- and I'm a betting man -- I would bet he does [return]," Dana tells TMZ Sports.
"So, yeah ... I think he will."
Of course, Khabib announced his retirement following his Oct. 24 victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 ... explaining he has no desire to fight anymore after the death of his father earlier this year.
But, Dana says Khabib's father is the reason he WILL return -- explaining it was his dad's dream for Khabib to finish with a 30-0 record.
So, who would be the opponent? Dana says he's NOT considering Georges St-Pierre, despite Khabib previously suggesting that's he'd be open to that opportunity.
Instead, Dana pointed to 2 upcoming fights ... Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson.
"We'll see how all these things play out here ... One of those guys would definitely be in for the fight."
There's more ... we also asked Dana about plans for Jon Jones, who appears to be bulking up for a fight at the heavyweight level.
But, White says there's nothing in the plans for a Jon Jones scrap in the near future.
"Jon Jones, I don’t know what Jon Jones is doing," White says.
"When he’s ready, all he's gotta do is let us know … but we have no inclination whatsoever that this guy is coming to fight."
We also talked to Dana about Valentina Shevchenko -- and what lies in store for her if she gets past Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 this weekend.