Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov talks Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, and Georges St-Pierre


Khabib Nurmagomedov wants to fight Tony Ferguson on Dec. 30 at UFC 219.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

At UFC 254 this past October, Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his lightweight title against Justin Gaethje and then promptly retired from MMA. Though the UFC has yet to vacate his title, over the last four months Nurmagomedov has steadfastly maintained he will not fight again and it’s only a matter of time before the company does eventually move on. When it does, there will be no shortage of career retrospectives for the Greatest Lightweight Of All Time and his career arc will likely be defined by three fighters – Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, and Georges St-Pierre, and recently the champion spoke about all three men.

Khabib and McGregor had arguably the bitterest rivalry in the history of the UFC, featuring hate-filled back-and-forths, the bus attack, the post-fight brawl, and then even more vitriol. Also in the middle there, Khabib beat McGregor up in the most lucrative fight in the history of MMA and became a global sensation. Since then, Khabib established himself as the GOAT and McGregor has gone 1-1, beating Donald Cerrone and then getting knocked out in January by Dustin Poirier, a loss which Khabib believe signals the end for McGregor’s title contention days.

“Never. There is no way that a man can be at the peak for two times,” Khabib said during an interview with ACA fighter Magomed Ismailov. “I’m not talking about (just McGregor). What I mean is, a man can’t have two primes. A team could do it. For example, Real Madrid did this a few times in a row. Teams may have this, but we’re talking about us and one man, on his own, cannot have this.”

And speaking of fighters who are past their prime, Khabib also feels this way about Tony Ferguson. Khabib and Ferguson spent several years being booked to fight one another but having the fight fall through repeatedly. Five times the fight was made and five times an injury, illness, or global pandemic intervened. Then Ferguson lost to Gaethje and Charles Oliveira and now the fight will never happen. It is unquestionably the greatest fight in MMA that never was and something that will always be brought up about Khabib when discussing his career, but for the lightweight champion, it’s a fight that he maintains would have ended like all the rest of his bouts.

“I swear I never considered him an elite lightweight,” Khabib said of Ferguson. “He was very good but I never counted him so because it’s impossible to be elite at 37 years old. It’s never been before and even I cannot do this. At 37 years in the lightweight division, no way. But heavyweights can. It’s my opinion and you cannot change it.

“Secondly, since 2016 he fought Kevin Lee, (Edson) Barboza, (Anthony) Pettis, and (Donald) Cerrone. These fighters have 20 losses for these four years! It means that since 2016 he didn’t fight good fighters. But now he faced young and top fighters, I mean Charles Olvieira and Justin Gaethje. They outclassed him, you saw this. Both fighters just dominated Tony.”

The other fight that never was for Khabib will be his oft-discussed dream fight with former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre. For years, Khabib publicly courted a superfight with GSP but the UFC was never interested in making it happen, preferring instead to have Khabib defend his title. Then, when Khabib announced his retirement following the passing of his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, fans and teammates suggest that a bout with St-Pierre might be the only thing that could bring him back for one more fight. We can put those suggestions to be though now as Khabib unequivocally says that it’s not going to happen.

“When you say Georges St-Pierre, that name really motivates me,” Khabib concluded. “GSP really makes me excited and so on but it’s all over, brother. He’s 40 years old. Let’s just leave it. For sure we like him as a human being. He is the legend. He is the decent representation of mixed martial arts. Let it be like this, there’s GSP and Khabib.”

Nurmagomedov is currently the top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the sport and walks away from MMA with a sterling 29-0 professional record.


TOP STORIES

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Referee. Derrick Lewis explains extra punches after Curtis Blaydes knockout: ‘That’s not my fault, that’s Herb Dean’s fault’.

Call out. Derrick Lewis still wants ‘so-called legend’ Alistair Overeem ‘as soon as he passes concussion protocol’.

What’s in the bag? UFC reverses course, won’t release Ottman Azaitar after he breached COVID-19 protocols on Fight Island.

Inspiration. ‘Mortal Kombat’ actor Lewis Tan says he based part of his character on Jorge Masvidal.


VIDEO STEW

UFC Vegas 19 Post Show.

UFC Vegas 19 Post-Fight Press Conference.

Masvidal doing his best to angle for a rematch.

Marc Goddard debunks some myths around refereeing.

SNL spoofing Gina Carano


LISTEN UP

On to the Next One. Matchmaking for the UFC following UFC Vegas 19.

Severe MMA. The 300th episode of Severe MMA, discussing Derrick Lewis and Bellator rankings.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Perfect summary.

Love.

Yan vs. Aljo.

Dan Hooker still hasn’t been able to see his family.

Henry Cejudo.

Mystery solved.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Raoni Barcelos (16-1) vs. Marcelo Rojo (16-6); UFC Vegas 20, Feb. 27.

Angela Hill (12-9) vs. Ashley Yoder (8-6); UFC Vegas 20, Feb. 27.

Alex Perez (24-6) vs. Matt Schnell (15-5); UFC 262, May 15.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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