At UFC 229 last October, Khabib Nurmagomedov retained his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight title by submitting Conor McGregor in what was a rather dominant outing for “The Eagle.” Since then, “Notorious” has been campaigning for a rematch, claiming the outcome would be different while laying out excuses for his performance.
While it’s likely it will happen sometime down the road, giving the rematch to McGregor next simply doesn’t makes sense, regardless of his star-power. But when you have the company president hinting of the possibility of that happening, you can see why it upsets the rest of the contenders.
But if Khabib has any say in the matter — which we now he actually has pull — Conor won’t be getting a chance to avenge his loss to him anytime soon.
“Last three years he have only one victory in amateur boxing,” said Khabib during the recent UFC 242 press conference (video here). “How he deserve a rematch? He tapped. He begged me: ‘Please don’t kill me,’ you know? Now he’s talking about rematch? Tony Ferguson on the line. People who have win streak on the line. Not a guy who don’t win nothing last three years, you know? I have a lot of works without him.”
Indeed, the right thing to do would be to give Tony Ferguson — who defeated Donald Cerrone last Saturday at UFC 238 -- the next championship bout at 155 pounds against the winner of Khabib vs. Dustin Poirier on September 6 in Abu Dhabi.
Should “The Diamond” upset Nurmagomedov, then a rematch between Khabib and Conor makes much more sense, as they will both be coming off a loss and neither of them will be holding the strap. Sure, adding the luster of promoting it as a title fight makes it much more sweeter, but as long as it’s a five-round headlining bout, in the grand scheme of things people will still tune in.
Should McGregor decide to take a fight from here until September, he has to secure a win or else any hopes of getting back to a championship fight — or Khabib, for that matter — will only slip away further.
And since Nurmagomedov has his eyes on Ferguson and Georges St-Pierre, as well, the line is only getting longer for McGregor, whose last win in mixed martial arts (MMA) came back in 2016.