Khabib Nurmagomedov made history last night (Sat., April 7, 2018) at UFC 223, beating last second replacement Al Iaquinta to become the first Russian to hold an undisputed UFC title. Of course, “undisputed” is a bit of a loaded word in this case. Both former lightweight champ Conor McGregor and interim champ Tony Ferguson might take issue with it being used. But, as far as UFC is concerned, Khabib is the only lightweight champion.
It only makes sense that McGregor and Nurmagomedov fight to see who the real kingpin is at 155 pounds. Despite calling out Georges St-Pierre in the cage after his victory, Khabib sounded pretty all right with the idea of fighting Conor instead.
”Conor, like I say before: we’re gonna make him humble,” Khabib said on the UFC 223 post-fight show. “He and his oaf [Lobov], I slap him anywhere, any time. Inside the cage, also outside the cage I am here. And if somebody want to find me, let’s go.”
It's Khabib Time, and he wants to know who's next. pic.twitter.com/ZP2N8TdR9H— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) April 8, 2018
”Iaquinta is real gangster, he take this fight and we fight inside cage like real men, man on man,” he continued. “[Conor] comes with whole other team, with camera guys, he broke a bus and is running away. He think he’s gangster, but when I meet this guy, when I catch this guy, his team is crying like baby. You guys can watch video.”
”If you want to find me, send a message. Or let’s talk about this business with Dana. Any time, any where, I am ready. I am born ready.”
But Nurmagomedov made no secret that he’d prefer to face GSP. Given McGregor’s current legal problems, that may even be a more realistic option.
”To be honest if they ask me I’d want to take Georges St-Pierre,” Khabib admitted. “St-Pierre is greatest athlete that ever competed in UFC. I am very big fan of his. When I grew up I watched his fight. When he defended his title in UFC like 10, 11 years ago, I compete in junior Dagestan championship in combat sambo. Can you imagine this? Now we are here and we can fight.”
”It’s like crazy, 10, 11 years ago when I was 19 year old kid, when I watch his fight when I was very big fan. Now he talk about how he want to be UFC lightweight champion. Before he was UFC middle and welterweight champion. Why not? If he can make, let’s go in New York.”
I asked @GeorgesStPierre what he thought of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s post-fight comments. His response:— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 8, 2018
“I feel UFC and Khabib got unfinished business before I try to make a step in here to go for the 155 title.”
St-Pierre actually responded to Nurmagomedov’s respectful call out later in the night, telling Ariel Helwani “I feel UFC and Khabib got unfinished business before I try to make a step in here to go for the 155 title.”
We can only assume that means Tony Ferguson, and Khabib seems okay with finishing that business ... after Ferguson jumps through the same hoops he did and earns his shot.
”About Tony? Tony deserve too,” he said. “But remember, after I pull out of UFC 209, UFC tell me ‘You pull out, you have to deserve your title shot.’ And they give me very tough opponent in Edson Barboza. I take this guy, beat this guy, come back and fight for the title and take this shot. Now Tony Ferguson, if you want to deserve this? Hey, fight with somebody, deserve this, then come back. Then we going to fight.”
It sounds like Nurmagomedov has no shortage of future opponents. But with all the injuries and illnesses and legal troubles surrounding them, we wouldn’t be surprised if Khabib ends up defending his title against someone else completely.