Khabib Nurmagamedov will fight Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on October 25. The Russian champion plans to defend his lightweight title for the third time and unify the division against the interim champion. It is one of the most intriguing match-ups of the year as both men have wrestling backgrounds.
The big question is whether or not Gaethje will be able to nullify Khabib’s wrestling. In short, the Dagestani has been unstoppable and relentless in every UFC fight so far. He amassed an unbeaten record of 28-0 but plans to retire if he can reach 30-0.
Furthermore, Khabib knows who he wants to fight next. Georges St. Pierre is the name on his lips. In sum, the Canadian is Khabib’s dream opponent and also the man his father wanted him to fight. After Abdulmanap’s tragic passing earlier this year, you can imagine that it means a lot to Khabib.
It’s important to note that Khabib isn’t looking past Gaethje. However, he only wants to fight one more time if he wins, so it’s reasonable to have a name on his lips. He explained that to fight St. Pierre would be a dream for him and his father.
“If I beat Gaethje, then in April I could fight St-Pierre,” Khabib told RT Sport. “(The UFC) told me that they will negotiate with St-Pierre. This is a fight between my dreams and my father,” he explained. “Time is ticking, St-Pierre is 40 years old next year, he has to decide whether we will fight or not.”
However, it’s worth noting that GSP is happily retired. It would take something special to bring him back to the UFC. Meanwhile, the promotion is skeptical about the Canadian potentially winning and vacating like he did at middleweight. That’s why Khabib has a back-up plan. He said:
“If I don’t fight St-Pierre, I’d fight anyone who beats Dustin Poirier next. If St-Pierre comes back to the UFC and agrees to fight me, I’m fighting him. Why? Because the last time he lost was 2007. My career started in 2008. Together we’ve been undefeated for 25 years.
I’m talking in terms of time, not fights. I don’t think the UFC will get another chance to make a fight like that, definitely not in the next 10 years. So, Georges St-Pierre is next. If not, then let Conor beat Poirier or have Tony Ferguson beat him, then I’ll fight them.”
His father always wanted him to retire after 30 fights, but it sounds like Khabib might be having second thoughts. He said that he wants to keep busy and that he’s motivated to keep going. Only time will tell where his headspace is. He said:
“As far as retirement, I’ve been having lots of different thoughts. Right now I’m thinking of my next fight. I’m 31, I’ll be 32 in September. That’s a significant age. I’m no longer a rookie. Looking back at how much time I invested in the sport, it’s fair to say I’m a veteran. I’ve been a professional for 12 years, since 2008. I have been in the UFC for more than eight years. If you look back, I’ve had an excellent career. Right now, I’m motivated to come back, to fight, to keep busy.