UFC 242: Khabib Nurmagomedov on Why Remaining Undefeated, Not Changing Weight, is The Best Way to Entrench His Legacy
In age of champions chasing titles in other divisions, Khabib Nurmagmedov believes the path he's currently on will establish a greater legacy.
In the last few years, we’ve seen several fighters reach new levels of greatness by becoming champ-champs. But, it doesn’t sound like we’re going to see Khabib Nurmagomedov changing weights anytime soon or going after another division’s belt. In fact, the UFC’s lightweight champ believes the path he’s on right now, is entrenching his legacy just fine.
If you’re a hardcore fan, you know that Khabib has gone 27-0 to date in pro-MMA action, and that includes 11 straight wins in the UFC. The galaxy-class grappler won the UFC’s lightweight crown last April by earning a decision win over Al Iaquinta, and he defended the belt last October, by submitting Conor McGregor.
As he gets set to fight Dustin Poirier this Saturday at UFC 242, Nurmagomedov is sitting in the #2 spot of the UFC’s pound-for-pound ranks.
Champ-champ vs. undefeated
Since we’re currently in an era where champions are changing divisions to chase other titles, Nurmagmedov was recently asked about whether he could do the same. The Dagestani star said this (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“I think if you want to improve your legacy by changing weight classes, I don’t think this is help for you,” Nurmagomedov said. “Only one thing helps for you. You have to beat up-and-comers. What about when you beat tough opponents and you’re still undefeated more than the others. I think this is going to improve your legacy.”
“If you lose couple times and you win one title, second title, you lose again, and then you win third title, this does not make you great,” Nurmagomedov said. “My opinion, when you’re undefeated long time and you never lose, this is when it’s real thing.”
“… When you go to the cage and again, again, again, you win, win, win, win, that helps to talk about ‘this guy is tough’. I don’t focus on welterweight or featherweight, my focus is the lightweight division.”
There’s no question that if Nurmagomedov can close out his career undefeated, his status as an all-time great will be ensured. After all, remaining undefeated in the upper echelon of MMA is ridiculously hard to do. That’s a big reason why Jon Jones, who’s only defeat came via disqualification, is considered by many to be the greatest fighter to date. Jones has never won a second title like say, Daniel Cormier or Georges St-Pierre.
But Khabib’s legacy aside, these comments are also interesting to hear, as he had talked about possibly fighting at featherweight in the past. So, it seems clear that Nurmagomedov is going to remain at lightweight for the foreseeable future.