2018 Was the Year of the Eagle… Khabib Nurmagamedov Soared to New Heights by Claiming the Lightweight Title and Crushing the UFC’s Biggest Draw in Conor McGregor… Most Hardcore Fans Want to See Him Defend Against Tony Ferguson… But Ali Abdelaziz Has Bad news For El Cucuy…
Khabib Nurmagamedov is on top of the world right now. The Dagestani fighter is easily one of the most feared fighters on the roster, with his oppressive sambo wrestling style. His record of 27-0 speaks for itself. Khabib has never been put in danger in any of his fights in the UFC, except for a single punch from Michael Johnson that mildly stunned him.
In 2018, ‘The Eagle’ beat both Al Iaquinta and Conor McGregor, consolidating himself as the legitimate champion. He overcame adversity and confusion both times, taking on last-minute opponents and dealing with the emotional chaos of the McGregor match-up. The man is unbreakable.
Now the big question is who will he fight next. Most fans want Tony Ferguson to get the shot. The fight has been booked four times previously. However, don’t get excited because Khabib’s manager and close friend, Ali Abdelaziz has dismissed this out of hand.
Abdelaziz made the case for Khabib being the greatest lightweight fighter of all time. It’s actually pretty tough to say who the best ever is at 155lbs. With a couple more title defences, it will definitely be ‘The Eagle’s accolade. Abdelaziz told MMA Fighting:
“Let’s talk about a GOAT. No PEDs. We talk about the greatest of all-time, I think that he should be on top of the list because he never lost to anybody. He’s never lost, he’s never been dropped, he’s never been stitched, nothing.”
That’s pretty difficult to argue with really.
Unfortunately, another soaring fighter at lightweight level looks set to suffer because of Khabib’s success. Tony Ferguson has beaten a whole line of killers to become the most obvious challenger to Khabib’s crown. After a cruel injury caused him to be stripped of the interim crown, he’s back in business. Team Khabib isn’t interested though.
“So [we want] the biggest money fight he can make,” said Abdelaziz. “Boxing, MMA, whatever. I love Tony Ferguson— he’s not that, I can tell you that,” he said. “One-hundred percent, Tony Ferguson is not the next fight, because Tony Ferguson — I need somebody who can sell pay-per-views.
Abdelaziz insists that at this stage of Khabib’s career it’s all about making as much money as possible because the Russian has secured his legacy. He wants big pay-per-view draws. Unfortunately for Ferguson, he’s not a mainstream name like Conor McGregor or *shudders* Floyd Mayweather.
“At the end of the day, it will be the exact same situation. Khabib was supposed to fight Eddie Alvarez, remember that? When he got taken out in place of Conor McGregor, we understood it because Conor’s going to bring pay-per-views. We need people who can help us sell pay-per-views, and that’s it.”
Dana White has already indicated his support for a Khabib v McGregor rematch. Is Ferguson hard done by? And should MMA have mandatory challengers when both fighters are fit? In an ideal world, yes.