The UFC’s Lightweight Champion had been on a dominant run ever since his pro debut in 2008. Khabib Nurmagomedov’s status was elevated once he joined the UFC in 2012. With 12 wins, facing the “The Eagle” has felt like facing The Terminator. Since winning the UFC Lightweight Title in 2018, Khabib (28-0) hasn’t broken a sweat in any of his fights.
That includes the UFC 229 bout against Conor McGregor.
Khabib dominated Conor in their grudge match before jumping into the Las Vegas crowd to attack Conor’s camp. Everyone has been wondering when the rematch would take place, especially with Conor’s (22-4) return win against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. The Irish star has a plan to eventually fight Khabib, but the latter told TMZ Sports he doesn’t believe Conor is ready yet. This is especially true when looking at his last fight.
“Conor picked a very good opponent. Now, he come back and beat Cowboy, who lose [seven of his last 11 fights] and then they talk about, ‘Okay, this guy’s come back.’ No, he has to fight with really tough opponents like Justin Gaethje or something like this,” Khabiib stated, via MMA Fighting. “He has to come back to lightweight division, he has to cut weight. This is just my opinion.”
McGregor has been looking to also stay in the welterweight division, but the hunger for a lightweight fight hasn’t gone away. The buildup for the fight focused on the dolly incident in Brooklyn, Conor’s arrest, the tension between the two and Conor bashing Khabib’s family. The one-sided affair provided little to be desired. A motivated Conor, however, could make things interesting.
The only interest Khabib would have in the fight is if the purse was right. Factors not related to Conor’s actual skill is something Khabib looks at. It is the only thing he believes the people want to see.
“I think people want to see us continue what happened last time,” Nurmagomedov went on to say. “They just want to see drama. If you ask people, ‘Guys, what do you think, who’s gonna win?’ 99 percent going to say ‘Khabib, like he did first time.’ Just people want to see a big drama show, only for this one.
“If we talk about money, this is good. If we talk about drama, this is good. If we talk about real lightweight contender or real lightweight championship fight, this is not good,” Khabib continued “This is not real championship fight. But if we talk about drama and money, of course this is good. But I come here for show, to make my legacy. For my legacy, I have to beat tough opponents like Dustin Poirier, like Iaquinta, like other guys. Right now it’s Tony Ferguson. I have to beat all of them, like real contenders, not fake contenders.”
If Khabib can get past Ferguson in April, it is unsure who he would fight next. He will not wait for a Conor fight, however, no matter how long the timeline of McGregor’s resurgence is. Conor has been linked to the aforementioned Gaethje.
The fight between Khabib and Ferguson at UFC 249, the fifth time it is being made, is set for April 18 inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.