By Evan Stoumbelis
Khabib Nurmagomedov might dress up with his comedic wig at weigh ins, but he is no joke once in the cage.
The 25 year old Soviet native is 21-0 in his MMA career, and 5-0 in his UFC career, with 14 of his 21 wins coming by stoppage. We last saw Nurmagomedov in September at UFC 165 when he defeated Pat Healy by decision. Since then however, for one reason or another, nobody has stepped up to fight Nurmagomedov. First, the former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez was set to fight Khabib at UFC 170, but pulled out of the fight, saying the timing for a fight wasn’t right. Next, Melendez’ teammate Nate Diaz refused to fight Nurmagomedov because the UFC wouldn’t meet his contract terms.
Dana White said in the past:
“Guys can say whatever they want, ‘I’ll fight this guy, I’m not afraid,’…[but] nobody wants to fight this guy.”
Now Khabib is speaking out, he joined Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour to discuss his predicament.
“I understand they need to work things out financially, I understand it’s going to be a tough fight for them. I’m pretty much of a no name or don’t have a big a name as them in the U.S. as they do so a loss to someone like myself will definitely set them back. I get that, I get the business aspect of it, but I think they should fight. If they say they are willing to fight the best they should fight the best. If they want, I’ll take them both at once in the cage.”
One man has stepped up to challenge Nurmagomedov, Michael Johnson. Johnson is 14-8 in his MMA career, and 6-4 in his UFC career. He is currently riding a 2 fight winning streak against Joe Lauzon, and most recently, Gleison Tibau.
“My goal is to fight Melendez, T.J. Grant or Diaz because I think they will be much of a challenge for me in a fight. Michael Johnson, if one of those three doesn’t accept to fight me, then I will have to fight him. He has lost in the UFC by decision, by submission; so, I don’t think he’s posing much of a challenge at this point.”
It will be interesting to see if Nurmagomedov gets to fight Melendez, Grant, or Diaz. Any one of the three would make for a great fight with Khabib. What do you think PENNation? Who should Khabib fight next? Sound off in the comments section below.