Octagon icon breaks down hypothetical Khabib matchup
Former UFC two-division champion Georges St-Pierre says he would have had hit work cut out for him had he ever set foot in the Octagon to face the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov.
St-Pierre, who retired soon after he claimed the UFC middleweight title from Michael Bisping in late 2017, will go down as one of the most legendary fighters in mixed martial arts history after a breathtaking run with the UFC after which he was rightfully heralded in organization's Hall of Fame.
Much like Khabib, though, St-Pierre resisted any urge to come out of retirement after stepping away from the sport five years ago, even despite tentative links to a fight with Khabib himself after both men spoke of their interest in testing their skills against one another.
But speaking to fans ahead of the UFC's first-ever event in Paris, France on Saturday night, St-Pierre detailed how he feels he would have fared against several of the most dominant fighters in recent history.
“Khabib is a legend in terms of his knowledge, his experience,” he said of the Russian superstar who retired with an unblemished 29-0 record.
“He’s got so many tools in his bag. It would be a fight that I wouldn’t know how it would’ve turned out. I don’t know. It’s not the best fighter that wins the fight, it’s the fighter that fights the best the night of the fight, so to beat them I would have needed to be the best man of the night of the fight and be very, very well prepared.”
St-Pierre dominated the UFC welterweight division for much of his career but was eventually replaced as titleholder by Kamaru Usman and, most recently, Leon Edwards, and added his thoughts on how he would have fared against the new generation of 170lbs elite.
“It’s hard because they all have great qualities,” he said of the champions who came after him.
“They’re all very different. Leon would have given me a lot of trouble because he’s very smart. It would have been like a chess game. It would have been a hard puzzle to solve because it would be a very technical fight.
“Kamaru is very physical, he’s very athletic, he’s a beast. He’s strong, he hits very hard, he’s a great wrestler. It would be very tough physically, very demanding.
“I think he won the first round and he showcased in the first round incredible skills to put Kamaru Usman on his back, mount him, take his back,” St-Pierre added of Edwards.
“He showcased incredible skills right there. He was losing because he was losing after the second, third, and fourth round, and he was on his way to losing the fifth round. But I think what makes Leon Edwards so good, it’s his fighting IQ.
“He is also so good at neutralizing his opponent’s strengths. He’s very good at shutting down his opponent’s strengths and bringing the fight where he is comfortable, to make his opponent fight outside of his comfort zone, and I think that’s why Leon Edwards is so good.”