This past Saturday night on Yas Island AKA Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Justin Gaethje in the second round with a triangle choke. Much was said in the lead up to the fight about Gaethje’s defensive wrestling but The Eagle made it look easy.
Let’s go back to this past July to the passing of the great Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov from complications due to a COVID-19 infection. He was the father of Khabib as well as a teacher and mentor to thousands of mixed martial artists in their native home of Dagestan Russia.
He majorly altered the mixed martial arts landscape for an entire decade and more to come. Fighters from all around the globe have added the leg weave and the Dagestani handcuff to their respective games.
Deep in those mountains, he trained his son, his nephews, and others to be world-class mixed martial artists and in the case of The Eagle, a world champion fighter.
It was unclear whether we would ever get to see one of the greatest fighters of all time, Khabib Nurmagomedov, compete inside the Octagon ever again. Justin Gaethje had just soundly defeated Tony Ferguson and Khabib knew there was one more fight and he felt he needed to take.
When he was in Dagestan, Khabib lived at home and everything he did outside of it was to become a better fighter. That meant Abdulmanep was never far away. When Khabib was training at AKA in California, he got a little break from father but something tells me he was always there.
And he will always be there for Khabib, whether he makes his return to the Octagon or he doesn’t.
I’m also very close with my father and I almost lost him in July as well. He had two strokes within a few weeks and just a taste of possibly losing him broke me down for a while. I can’t imagine how Khabib must feel because he shared everything with father.
“My father is everything for me.”
— UFC (@ufc) October 26, 2020
A lot of the hardcore fans wanted it to be Tony Ferguson and in hindsight, I believe El Cucuy is a better stylistic match up for Khabib than Justin is.
I say this because it just looks like you’re going to get taken down whether you like it or not. From there, it is possible for a fighter to use his Jiu-Jitsu and submit Khabib. Tony is light years ahead of Justin in the submission game.
Gaethje did a great job touching the chin of Khabib a couple of times. One left hook altered his balance for a split second but Khabib was still never in any real trouble. The leg kicks were beginning to add up, though, but Khabib used one to get the fight to the mat and that was a wrap.
- Nurmagomedov has been the most dominant force in mixed martial arts and particularly the UFC for nearly a decade.
- He showed up for work at the UFC with a record of 15-0, and now he is retired from professional competition still undefeated at 29-0.
- What he has done in his mixed martial arts is nothing short of outstanding. I will refrain from focusing on his accomplishments in this article.
- We went pretty hard on his resume when we picked him to win by submission for a (+160) payout this past week.
When he said he was going to fight according to father’s plan… And he even told us exactly what he was going to do: Walk him down, take him down, tire him out, and choke him. Khabib has some power so I thought maybe he could rock the sometimes chinny Gaethje on the feet and TKO from there.
Today, let’s play a little pretend and speak hypothetically about some potential future opponents for Khabib Nurmagomedov and attempt to answer the question of: Do they even have a chance?
Also, BetOnline.AG has betting odds on who Khabib’s next opponent will be. We can touch on those as well.
Manny Pacquiao: +2000
I’m starting at the bottom of the betting board with the longest odds but this one I believe is a dark horse!
The question wasn’t can anyone beat Khabib Nurmagomedov in MMA.
Well, absolutely. I believe Manny Pacquiao would defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov in a boxing match. This would be huge as well because all of Asia would be tuning in. You have the pride of the Philippines Manny Pacquiao with fans all over the world, especially throughout Southeast Asia.
That’s a pretty big continent too. Khabib has Russia, Eastern Europe, and much of the Muslim world behind him. I won’t talk about this matchup for very long because it does take away from Khabib’s dominance inside the Octagon.
Neither man is greedy because they have each given large chunks of their paydays towards charity and their countries but everyone has a price. Khabib told his mother he would never fight again because father is not at his side.
But what happens when he could make 50 million dollars to put on bigger gloves and box with a living legend? That money could be used to help change the lives of multiple generations to come for most of Dagestan.
It’s 20-1 so what’s 5 bucks?
Jorge Masvidal: +1000
Another dark horse here, guys, Jorge Masvidal not only has a decent chance to be Khabib’s next opponent but I believe he could have the sauce to beat him. Street Jesus’s striking has never looked better and sportsbooks still have him as a hypothetical favorite over Conor McGregor.
I don’t agree with that but it says a lot about the experts’ respect for the Miami native. He also just went through a fight camp for Kamru Usman, the closest thing you’re going to get to Khabib.
Now, they are talking about letting the two best friends, Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington, fight one another. You better believe Colby is not planning on standing up against Jorge. Masvidal knows that and will be training even more takedown defense nonstop.
- Jorge Masvidal is also a 170-pounder right now. I know he used to fight at lightweight but we can’t give Khabib a smaller man and expect him to lose.
- Justin Gaethje does not look very thick at all and he said he doesn’t even cut that much weight to make the 155-lb limit and Khabib has said he cuts down from 190 plus.
His takedown defense looked pretty darn solid against Usman but when a guy is that relentless and strong, it makes it very tough to get anything off. You want to fight and he wants to hold you. It can be so frustrating that you lose patience or quit and thus prove his method correct.
I would favor Khabib and I believe the sportsbooks would agree but Jorge, who is very similar to Gaethje in style, is a bigger and better version.
Michael Chandler: +900
Here is a short stocky wrestler who makes Justin Gaethje, as an athlete, look like Roxanne Modafferi. Sorry, Rox. You know I love you.
Michael was recently signed to the UFC from Bellator and was the alternate for this past Saturday night’s main event.
He is a beast and I am definitely more confident in his defensive wrestling ability than I am Justin’s but as you know, it’s hard to bet against Khabib.
Of the people we have mentioned so far and the men he has fought in the past, I would say that Michael Chandler has one of the best chances to ground The Eagle. He is shorter, has more muscle mass per square inch, and is highly combustible e.
I would still open the betting at (-350) for the Dagestan native.
Floyd Mayweather: +900
I really don’t see this one happening. Khabib would not sell the fight as Conor McGregor did.
I just don’t think Floyd has the energy at this point. He has said he is done and done and done but money is money so there will always be a chance.
Would Floyd Mayweather beat Khabib Nurmagomedov in a boxing match? His betting odds are more than (-1000) so yes, of course.
Would Khabib smoke Floyd in an MMA fight?
Nahhh. I think Mayweather smokes him with a right hand on the way in.
Can you smell the stench of sarcasm through your screen?
Tony Ferguson: +600
The fight that never was…
I touched on this a moment ago. Knowing what we know now, it’s hard to argue Tony Ferguson would not have done a better job against could be than we saw from Justin. There is no doubt now that Ferguson has a Jiu-Jitsu game several levels higher than Gaethje.
Does that mean that his game is good enough to submit Khabib, though?
I’m going to say no. As far as this bet on Tony Ferguson potentially being his next opponent, there is a decent chance.
I think he is more likely to fight Khabib than Conor is.
Nurmagomedov hates McGregor so much that I don’t think any amount of money would bring him back to fight the Irishman.
Tony, though, would still have to fight and win one or more times before he deserves a shot at The Eagle.
Kamaru Usman: +500
Okay, now we’re talking. I haven’t been mentioning it very much in this article because I want to respect Khabib at this time but we have to be real. Khabib Nurmagomedov has fought 8 fights in the past 7 years from age 25-32 and every single opponent has been a guy who prefers to strike.
I said he has only fought strikers recently on social media and I had a bunch of noobs, if you will, screaming down my throat.
He looked terrible on the ground! And Khabib didn’t have to chain any takedown techniques together. He didn’t have to hold Justin on the cage and work.
Gaethje looked like he hadn’t been on his back since, well, never, and he appeared as if he hadn’t wrestled since college. All of these fighters have wrestling ability or else they wouldn’t be in the UFC.
But look at Khabib’s last 8 opponents on Tapology and you will see that they all indeed prefer to strike. This leads us to Kamaru Usman. He is the Nigerian version of Khabib only far less likable for some reason.
The man is huge too! He is one of the taller AND thicker athletes at 170 pounds and has world-class wrestling of his own. I would say their striking is even but Usman is much bigger.
There is also this, though. Khabib wouldn’t have to cut the worst and last 15 pounds to get to 155. That means more strength, power, and endurance. I have a feeling the sportsbooks might open this one pretty close to even odds but I would jump on Khabib up to (-180).
Conor McGregor: +300
We already spoke about the best striker in the UFC. I believe he will be the next world champion at 155 pounds but the question is can he beat Khabib. We already have our answer and it might surprise you.
Yes, he can. I thought he did an outstanding job against the worst stylistic matchup possible for him. Yes, he tapped but they all would have.
Conor’s wrestling game leveled up training for Khabib and evidenced by his obliteration of Cowboy Cerrone, he leveled up from the fight w Khabib as well.
I don’t think he will be next. If Khabib does come back, it will be for not only money but legacy. He looks at Conor as a big mouth boxer with a bad gas tank and an easy win.
We know who Khabib wants to fight. He wants to obey his mother’s wishes but he also wants to fight…
Georges St Pierre: +150
I think this is the fight to make and all of us were disappointed when we heard the sad news from Khabib about his retirement in the post-fight interview.
I think this was on the horizon but Khabib is a family man if you have ever seen one and now it may never happen. There are other fighters on this list that are much more likely to fight Khabib, in my opinion.
Georges “Safe” Pierre isn’t silly enough to return to the Octagon after the age of 40 and fight Khabib, a man 7 years younger.
If they made the fight for next Summer, GSP would already have eclipsed said milestone and that seems unlikely to me.
Absolutely! He has a much better chance than anyone we listed minus Kamaru Usman. I think I would give Kamaru a better shot against Nurmagomedov only because he is younger than GSP and, of course, currently more active.
Still, though, I would open the betting lines with Nurmagomedov as the betting favorite against anyone on this list. In an MMA fight, that is.
PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!
He is the most dominant fighter in the history of mixed martial arts. Khabib Nurmagomedov isn’t the greatest fighter of all time, in my opinion, though. I believe he can be but at this point, he just doesn’t have the body of work or the number of high-level fights to be considered alongside Anderson Silva or Jon Jones.
You know, I think we’re going to have to go up to welterweight to answer that question. Much like Vasyl Lomachenko did, Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to have to go up in weight if he wants a true challenge.
There may be a few fighters at 170 who would give the eagle problems inside of the Octagon but honestly, they should all open as betting underdogs to the most dominant force the UFC has ever seen.
I am not a fan of his record. Looking at the fight record of Khabib Nurmagomedov, you can tell that the company has taken good care of him supplying him with striker after striker to take down, control, and submit.
When you watch his fights, though, your mind begins to believe that he is, in fact, the greatest fighter of all time. There isn’t a question that his style of takedown, dominant top position, pressure, back take, and choke, is the most dominant style.
Attempting to knock someone out on the feet every fight isn’t a much more difficult undertaking than takedown, control, and maybe submit. On one hand, you want to give more credit to Silva who did the impossible almost every fight but on the other, he wasn’t the most dominant with the most dominant style.
That’s why I say Khabib is the most dominant fighter of all time but let’s just say not yet the greatest fighter of all time.