Reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is currently ranked as the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, behind light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones (No. 2) and heavyweight kingpin, Daniel Cormier.
What would it take to secure the No. 1 spot?
Quite a bit, actually, starting with a title unification win over interim lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier, in the UFC 242 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, taking place this September on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
After that, it gets even dicier.
“I have to beat Dustin, I have to beat Tony Ferguson and GSP,” Nurmagomedov said at Wednesday’s UFC 242 press conference (watch the replay here). “And then I can become No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter. This is my opinion.”
While he already defeated (and finished) Conor McGregor at UFC 229, the promotion is keeping “Notorious” at the front of the line because the power-punching Irishman is the biggest draw in mixed martial arts (MMA), which equates to the biggest payout for all parties involved.
I guess Nurmagomedov didn’t get the Email.
“Last three years he have only one victory in amateur boxing,” he said. “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.”
Aside from his UFC 242 showdown, the lightweight division cannot be considered “conquered” until Nurmagomedov rids himself of Ferguson, who is riding an unbelievable 12-fight winning streak with nine finishes.
Including this one.
If an “El Cucuy” victory comes to pass, “The Eagle” will then have to convince UFC to allow Georges St-Pierre to skip the 155-pound line (a “smart” precedent exists) for a championship super fight at some point in 2020.