5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) / 155 lb (70 kg; 11 st 1 lb) / Lightweight
Most Dominant Champion
Unlike Boxing, it is rare for fighters to retire undefeated because there are a lot of styles involved in the sport MMA, hence MIXED Martial Arts. One rare fighter is none other than Dagestani Fighter, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Despite announcing his retirement, he is still one of the biggest stars in MMA right now, especially in the Middle East.
There are styles that may not work for this certain style but can work against other types. At the highest level in MMA, gameplan and adjustments are usually the paths to winning a fight. Talent alone cannot be enough, as for Khabib his game plan is always the same take his opponent down and smash.
The problem for his opponents is that even though they are aware of Khabib’s game plan, they just cannot do anything about it. We all know that Khabib’s path to winning is to take you down, but no opponent was able to stop Khabib’s superior wrestling.
Early UFC Years
Prior to making his UFC debut, Khabib had a record of 16-0, all of his past fights were either held in Russia or Ukraine. Although most of his past opponents were not known in the eyes of a casual MMA fan, it is still an impressive record to enter a premier league like the UFC.
For his UFC debut, he faced Kamal Shalorus and won the fight via third-round submission. As for his second fight, he was up against Gleison Tibau. The decision was a bit controversial to some eyes as many thought Tibau may have edged a close decision win but the judges gave it all to Khabib via unanimous decision win.
He then faced Thiago Tavares where he scored his only KO win in his whole UFC career. Khabib is not really known as a knockout puncher so it was impressive for him to showcase his power once in a while.
For the first time in his UFC career, Khabib missed weight against Abel Trujillo. Unfortunately, this was not the last time that Khabib had issues with making weight. Although, Khabib dominated Trujillo to the point that the fight became a one-sided beatdown. That fight also broke the record for most takedowns in a single fight.
At that point, Khabib was already a danger to most fighters in the lightweight division but his records of injuries and making weight was an issue to climb the rankings. He then beat Pat Healy at UFC 165.
Probably Khabib’s biggest win throughout his pre-championship career was when he dominated Rafael Dos Anjos. Everyone knows how good RDA was, even went on to become a UFC lightweight champion. So for Khabib to dominate a veteran like RDA, he already proved that he is not just all hype but could even go as far as to become a championship-caliber fighter.
There were reports that he might face Donald Cerrone but eventually got canceled due to Khabib suffering injuries that forced him to withdraw from the fight. Had he continued fighting, he would have fought for the title with a win or two. It was not until 2 years that Khabib stepped inside the Octagon.
Khabib vs Ferguson Cursed Fight
UFC then booked Khabib to face Tony Ferguson but withdrew again due to injuries. After Khabib has recovered, UFC tried to book it again but this time, it was Ferguson that pulled out due to a lung injury. This was the start of the cursed fight. Khabib faced Darrel Horcher instead and won via TKO in the second round.
Unfulfilled Title Shot
Khabib then signed a contract that he would fight Eddie Alvarez for the title either at UFC 205 or 206. The problem is UFC announced that Conor McGregor will be the one who will face Alvarez instead. It was also McGregor’s peak years, so it was obvious that he was given special treatment. Khabib still fought at UFC 205 against Michael Johnson.
The problem was then champion, Conor McGregor, decided to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match which made the whole division wait for him.
Although the UFC then tried a third shot of booking Khabib vs Ferguson as it is a cursed fight, Khabib pulled out due to weight issues. Ferguson went on to win the interim title against Kevin Lee.
Since Khabib pulled out again, he needs another win to fight for the title again since Ferguson vs Lee was booked. Khabib faced elite striker, Edson Barboza where he also dominated easily.
Undisputed Lightweight Champion
UFC decided to strip McGregor off of his title since he has not defended even for a long time. The two top fighters at that time were Ferguson and Khabib where they were set to fight for the vacant undisputed title at UFC 223. The problem was Ferguson tripped on a cable that withdrew him out of the fight.
Max Holloway was ready to step in and face Khabib. Prior to the big title fight, Khabib and his team went to confront McGregor’s teammate, Artem Lobov. There were even clips of Khabib slapping Lobov’s neck.
McGregor was not pleased and flew to New York. It was at that moment that the Bus Attack happened, McGregor threw a dolly at the bus and even injured a few fighters. Khabib and Holloway were not injured so the main event was saved.
Unfortunately, Holloway was not allowed to fight by the doctors due to the unfit of making weight. Iaquinta who was also fighting on the card stepped in to fight for the title instead.
Khabib dominated Iaquinta all five rounds where he even showcased his jab in the later parts of the fight. Khabib won via unanimous decision and went became the undisputed lightweight champion.
Khabib vs McGregor
The biggest UFC fight has been booked, McGregor was set to make his return and face the undefeated Dagestani, Khabib. It was without a doubt the biggest PPV card the UFC made. The bad blood and history, it was easily projected as the best selling fight, and it delivered.
In their first press conference, fans were not even allowed as the UFC feared that a brawl might break.
The fight was one for the ages, Khabib dominated McGregor like his past opponents. Although McGregor was the first fighter to ever win a round against Khabib so that itself was impressive. In the fourth round, Khabib secured a neck crank that made McGregor tap.
After the referee stopped the fight, Khabib was still unsatisfied with the win. He jumped on McGregor’s corner and ignited a brawl. It was not a great look for the UFC as fans feared for their lives.
The event was a success in terms of revenue as it still remains to this day the biggest PPV fight of all time. The PPV reached 2.4 million buys, a record which we might not see for a while.
Khabib vs Poirier
Khabib’s next fight was against the interim champion, Dustin Poirier at UFC 242. It was scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi since Khabib is a megastar in the Middle East.
It was also the fight that his father, Abdulmanap was present in his corner. Due to visa issues, his father was not able to corner him so it was an important fight for Khabib as well.
Khabib still dominated someone as good as Poirier, once he got a hold of Poirier there is not much he can do. In the fight, Poirier tried lock-in guillotine choke but Khabib’s superior grappling let him escape easily. Khabib then got Poirier’s back that led to a rear-naked choke win the third.
Last MMA Fight
The UFC tried to book Khabib vs Ferguson once more but as it is a cursed fight, the pandemic happened. Due to country lockdowns, Khabib was not able to leave his country so the UFC booked Ferguson vs Gaethje instead. Gaethje won the fight via TKO and became the interim champion.
In May of 2020, Abdulmanap tested positive for COVID and passed away on 3 July 2020.
After a few months, UFC booked Khabib vs Gaethje for the title unification. Going to the fight, many thought Gaethje was the best match up being a D1 Wrestler. His game plan was to make Khabib fight at the center and avoid the corner.
Unfortunately for Gaethje, his BJJ was severely inferior. He did land a great combo on Khabib but it had so little effect. Khabib took Gaethje down at the last second of the first round and almost secured a submission.
In the second round, Khabib managed to time a leg kick that led to a takedown. Once he took Gaethje down, he switched his armbar to a triangle choke instead that put Gaethje to sleep. Some rumors say that Khabib did not want to break Gaethje’s arm since Gaethje’s parents were present. After successfully defending his belt, Khabib was emotional since his Father was not present anymore. He later announced his retirement due to his Father’s passing and also he promised his own mother that it will be his last fight.
Dana White did not want a massive star like Khabib to retire but eventually moved on and accepted that he will no longer fight. Although Khabib has said that Islam Makhachev will be the heir to his throne in the near future.