The performance put forth by Khabib Nurmagomedov opposite Edson Barboza this past month at UFC 219 speaks for itself.
Nurmagomedov absolutely torched the Brazilian in a lop-sided unanimous decision win that forced the judges to score the co-main event tilt 30-25, 30-25, and 30-24. With the victory, “Eagle” extended his professional record to 25-0 (9-0 UFC) and moved further up in the lightweight pecking order.
While Barboza wasn’t some sort of unbeatable force at 155 pounds, Nurmagomedov’s efforts were so darn impressive that UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is calling for the 29-year-old Russian to leapfrog interim titleholder Tony Ferguson in line to fight money-making champion Conor McGregor.
“Let’s get some respect for this dude, because I don’t want [Khabib Nurmagomedov] storming in here trying to double leg my ass,” Woodley said during a recent appearance on The Hollywood Beatdown via TMZ Sports (shown above). “I’m gonna say something outlandish. ‘F’ Tony Ferguson right now. I think he jumps Tony Ferguson and he goes straight to Conor McGregor. Man, it was completely savage how he was whooping up on the homie Michael Johnson — which is a tough cookie — and was saying stop. When a man telling you to quit and give up in a fight, he’s on a whole ‘nother level.”
Woodley may not be that far off. Despite Ferguson holding the interim 155-pound strap and making as much noise as possible to draw McGregor’s interest, “Notorious” has already revealed his desire to compete against Khabib in Russia.
Even if Nurmagomedov is unable to lock down a high-profile matchup with McGregor, Woodley still believes the undefeated crusher should be considered a top five pound-for-pound fighter, which is saying a lot considering “Chosen One” is currently No. 8.
“When I watched this fight [with Edson Barboza] as I was working the FOX desk and I saw the type of Terminator spirit he had dwelling in the inside, he’s a whole different individual,” Woodley explained. “I’m like, ‘Does he fight like this all the time?’ Every time. I said, ‘Can we please get him in the top five pound-for-pound?’ Without a belt. I’m going to go on record saying this dude should be in the top five. I haven’t seen many guys that dominant. Scary man.”
What makes things even more interesting for Nurmagomedov is that his weight cut for UFC 219 went so well that he’s considering a potential move down to 145 pounds. That would be scary for anyone at featherweight, especially current UFC champion Max Holloway.
But before “Eagle” decides to soar outside of the jam-packed lightweight division, he must first win, or at least compete for, the title. If McGregor’s current hiatus lasts deep into the summer, Nurmagomedov will quickly find himself fighting “El Cucuy” for the interim championship. If McGregor decides to return sooner and unify his 155-pound title with Ferguson then Khabib may have to fend off one more hungry contender.