Undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is calling the shots now. Not former two-division titleholder and reigning PPV king Conor McGregor.
That’s according to UFC president Dana White, who spoke to The Boston Globe earlier this week about what’s next for McGregor and Khabib. Wile “Notorious” has ruled the way for the past four years, including gaining UFC’s approval for a $100 million boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr., the 31-year-old has since lost the crown to the Russian champ.
“Khabib is the man now,” White said. “Conor isn’t the man anymore, so Khabib gets to sit back and call the shots.”
Whether it’s McGregor’s submission loss to Khabib back at UFC 229 or his out-of-cage antics that have kept him on the shelf ever since, the Irishman has lost much of his shot-calling magic. Khabib’s dominance, which includes a recent submission win over Dustin Poirier, also plays a major role in the shift of powers, as the undefeated champion has now compiled a staggering 12-0 UFC record (28-0 overall).
Adding to the Russian’s takeover is the fact that he doesn’t necessarily need McGregor to create buzz inside of the Octagon. With potential matchups lined up with the likes of streaking lightweight contender Tony Ferguson and UFC legend Georges St-Pierre, as well as the madman known as Justin Gaethje, Khabib can stay busy for the next 18 months without ever uttering Conor’s name.
“Next month at Madison Square Garden, we’ve got Diaz vs Masvidal, sold out,” White said. “So whoever wins that fight could fight McGregor. We’ve got ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, we’ve got Justin Gaethje, but what Conor wants right now really is the Khabib rematch. So we’ll see how that whole thing plays out.
“But if you’re Khabib, you got the Tony Ferguson fight, George St. Pierre wants to fight, and you’ve got the Conor McGregor fight.”
Despite the loss of power, McGregor remains the most popular fighter in the sport. Whether or not he can dictate who he fights in his return to the Octagon it will still be the biggest comeback of all time. Even if it happens to be against former UFC lightweight champion and current bantamweight Frankie Edgar.