UFC boss explains why Khabib might not be ‘greatest ever’
Khabib Nurmagomedov would have a stronger claim to be the UFC’s greatest ever star if he had competed for longer, according to promotion boss Dana White.
Khabib called time on his undefeated career after submitting Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi in October 2020.
That improved ‘The Eagle’ to an unblemished 29-0 record in the sport, although many were left clamoring for the Dagestani destroyer to return to the cage and push that figure to 30.
White was among those trying to twist Khabib’s arm to make a comeback before officially admitting defeat back in March.
Despite being a relatively young 32 years of age when he hung up his gloves, Khabib made the decision amid the tragic circumstances of the death of his father and trainer, Abdulmanap, just four months before he faced Gaethje.
Considering the domination he dished out during his time in the Octagon – where he lost just two rounds across 13 fights with the promotion – Khabib is firmly in the discussion for the greatest combatants ever to grace the UFC.
The Russian's name appeared when Dana White was asked on YouTube show ‘THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas’ to pick his favorite UFC fighters – both of all time and currently.
“It’s so hard,” White began. “I mean Chuck Liddell and Ronda Rousey are two people who really helped build this business, you know, super loyal.
“Right now, I think Kamaru Usman is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, what he’s accomplished in the past few years is amazing…
“I think Khabib Nurmagomedov probably could be called the greatest ever, who knows, if he’d stuck around longer. It was unfortunate, the passing of his father."
“You know, he’s just gotten to a point in his life where, you know how that goes too, when you’ve got so much money it changes everything," White added.
“The fight business is a tough business to get up and go to every day when you’ve got that kind of money.”
Since stepping away from the Octagon, Khabib has channeled his energy into helping coach an up-and-coming generation of Dagestani MMA fighters.
The most prominent of the team is current UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev, who is next in action against Beneil Dariush in a five-round main event in February.
Victory would extend Makhachev’s unbeaten streak to 10 fights and would make the 30-year-old hard to ignore for a shot at 155lbs gold.
Elsewhere, Khabib will have a busy 2022 as he takes his own MMA promotion, Eagle FC, to Miami for his first events Stateside.
Khabib has said he is aiming for Eagle FC to be “promotion of the year” among new MMA fight leagues.
The Russian even cheekily borrowed a catchphrase from former employer White at EFC’s first Miami press conference this month, telling the assembled media: “If you don’t know, now you know.”