Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will not fight for the UFC lightweight title when they clash in a rematch next year.
The rivals will meet on January 23 at UFC 257, six years after McGregor knocked the American out in the first round.
The pair had hoped to have the added incentive of competing for silverware after Khabib Nurmagomedov retired following his win over Justin Gaethje.
Nurmagomedov, who holds wins over McGregor and Poirier, submitted Gaethje in the second round last weekend before announcing he was quitting.
But UFC president Dana White believes the Dagestan fighter may yet return – and will not be stripping him of his belt.
“[Khabib] is the lightweight champion so there is no vacant belt,” he told ESPN. “No interim title, no vacant title, none of that.”
White went on to confirm he believes contracts are signed for McGregor to fight Poirier but that no venue has been decided.
The Irishman became a two-weight world champion when he knocked out Justin Gaethje over four years ago.
He was later stripped of the belt after opting to pursue a boxing fight with Floyd Mayweather instead of defending his title.
Nurmagomedov went on to beat Al Iaquinta to win the vacant strap before defending it against McGregor, Poirier and Gaethje.
The Dagestan native dominated Gaethje in Abu Dhabi last Saturday before placing his gloves on the canvas, the traditional sign he was retiring.
He was later named as the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, as he had requested following his 29th victory.
“It was the work of my life, I never got anything easy, and nothing was given to me because I’m a nice guy,” said Nurmagomedov.
“Hard work, hope for Allah and patience, these three ingredients help me to get successful, and of course, control and advice from my father, who invested in me a lot of time and work.”