With his dominating third round submission victory over Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov moves to an unparalleled 28-0, with 12 of those wins coming in the UFC.
Does this make him the P4P #1? Khabib sure thinks so.
“You know what’s interesting in this sport?” he asked during the post-fight press conference. “Even if you’re 28-0, 12-0 in the UFC, you’re one of the biggest stars, you smesh everybody, people are going to talk about ‘You have to fight him, you have to fight with him, you have to fight with him.’ Give me just respect!”
“Put me on No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter next week,” Khabib continued. “Because I think I deserve this. Because I dominate with all my opponents. I’m undefeated. I think I deserve some respect.”
Khabib is already pretty damn close to being pound for pound #1, with only Jon Jones sitting above him in the official UFC rankings. Jones is 25-1-1, with his sole loss coming off a widely derided DQ to Matt Hamill and a No Contest after testing positive for turinabol after his second Daniel Cormier win. More importantly, though, he’s defended the UFC light heavyweight belt a staggering 10 times.
That number would be even higher if he wasn’t also the GOAT of getting stripped of his titles. The names Jones has beaten is a who’s who of light heavyweight greats. And his dominance played a big role in sending a number of former 205-pounders running to middleweight and heavyweight.
Can we say the same thing about Khabib? Not yet. He’s defended his belt just twice. He holds wins over four of the top ten ranked lightweights. And while you could argue he’d smesh those other six, there’s a world of difference between the hypotheticals and reality. There’s work to be done yet. If he wants to earn the number one P4P spot, he’ll need to stay active and rack up title defenses against the best. And hope Jon Jones stumbles at the same time.
That’s just the reality of the situation. Hard to be #1 P4P when you’ve got an active GOAT laying a heavier weightclass to waste. Jones just has a really good head start, and continues to dominate. The only way to leapfrog him? A GSP superfight or a belt in a second weight class. That’s just how it works these days, unfortunately.