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Khabib and the Goats

Khabib, no need for introduction, we all know him. Two-time Combat Sambo World Champion and the UFC Lightweight Champion. With 29 wins and no losses, he holds the longest active undefeated streak in MMA. As of October 29, 2020, he is #1 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.

But when we are talking about the goats of sports, where does he stand in those talks. When we discuss this topic the names that pop up are Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Fedor, GSP, Spider Silva, DC, and some names come on a different level of opinion including Khabib’s too. But where he ranks in those names?

Let’s take a small look at the career of Khabib

Nurmagomedov made his professional MMA debut in September 2008 and gathered 4 wins in a month. On 11 October, Khabib became the introductory Atrium Cup tournament champion, defeated his three opponents at the event in Moscow. Over the course of the next three years, he went unbeaten, finishing 11 out of 12 opponents. These involved a 1st-round armbar finish of future Bellator title challenger Shahbulat Shamhalaev, which marked his M-1 Global inauguration. In 2011, he contested in seven fights for the ProFC promotion, he won all of them by TKO or submission.

In late 2011, Nurmagomedov signed a six-fight deal with UFC. In his UFC debut, Nurmagomedov defeated Kamal Shalorus via submission in the third round.

Nurmagomedov next defeated Gleison Tibau UFC 148 via unanimous decision. Nurmagomedov’s won against Thiago Tavares via KO in the first round.

Nurmagomedov defeated Abel Trujillo at UFC 160 via unanimous decision. In the fight, Nurmagomedov set a new UFC record for the most takedowns in a single fight with 21 successful takedowns.

Then Nurmagomedov faced Pat Healy. He won the fight via unanimous decision. Nurmagomedov next faced Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on Fox 11. He won the fight via unanimous decision.

Then faced Darrell Horcher and won the fight by TKO in the second round. Nurmagomedov next faced Michael Johnson, winning via submission in the third round.

Nurmagomedov faced Edson Barboza, he won the fight by unanimous decision. Won against Iaquinta via unanimous decision to become the UFC Lightweight Champion.

His biggest career win was when he defeated McGregor in the fourth round via submission. Then he won the fight via a rear-naked choke submission in the third round against Poirier.

He won against Justin Gaetjhe via triangle choke in the second round at UFC 254. after which he announced retirement.

Now that’s a pretty good career if you ask me.

But is he the goat and if he is, where he should be ranked in that list? Let’s compare him with some of the names that are considered the greatest of all times.

Let’s start with the mighty mouse

Considered for a very long time to be one of the greatest fighters to ever enter the octagon DJ showed one of the most well-rounded games we have ever seen. He can do it all strike, grapple, wrestle, defend, attack, and anything. Wins over Benavidez (2x), Cejudo, Dodson (2x), and many more. 11 title defenses in UFC.

Now a One FC Champion. Joe Rogan even ranked him above Jon Jones in goat talk in one of his podcasts. Also defeated 2 formal champions. What goes against Johnson is the fact that his division was lacking star names while he was competing in the UFC. This has weakened his view as the greatest due to people believing the eminence of his resume doesn’t quite stack up to other candidates in the race for consideration of being the greatest of all time in the UFC. Perhaps you could say Khabib has fought and beaten better fighters than the ones Demetrious did and Khabib has never lost while Demetrious had two losses during his UFC occupation though one loss was very debatable.

Jon Bones Jones

Defeated 8 former champions. Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson, Rashad Evans, Shogun, Chael ‘The American Gangster” Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Daniel Cormier, Ryan Bader, Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira. I mean, bring a better resume, of course other than RDA.

Never have we seen a fighter dominate so many world-class fighters in the way Jon did. Managing to defeat more notable named fighters and more former world champions than anyone else on this goat list. His criticizers would point out to his failed drug tests which should leave a moral debate over where he should place. What cannot be denied though in comparison to Khabib is that Jon Jones smokes him in every plausible metric used for comparison. Jon has a better and deeper resume with more notable names faced and defeated. He has more title fights and more defenses. He has more victories and while Khabib is undefeated we need to remember that Jon’s undefeated too. In other words, if you take the drug issues out then it is extremely difficult to rate Khabib’s achievements ahead of Jon’s. Not only that but while Khabib is edging closer to that pound-for-pound number one spot, Jon has held that spot for years during his prime.

But he was not as dominant as Khabib is or was. Some say Jon lost the Thiago and Dominick fight. And this is where and only place where Khabib takes the lead in comparison to Jones. Khabib was dominant and lost only two rounds in his career and Jon lost that domination part long ago. And with failed drug tests most fans will not even consider him the goat talks.

Now GSP, whose name even start with the G of Goat

10 title defenses, 8 former champions beaten. Michael Bisping, Matt Hughes (2x), BJ Penn (2x), Matt Serra, Nick Diaz, and more. He is only next to Jon Jones in notable names faced and only 2 fights behind in title defenses. Unlike Jon Jones, he doesn’t have the shame of failed drug tests impending over his career meaning he is a proven clean athlete.

In comparison to Khabib’s career, George has a much deep resume, has won 2 titles in 2 different divisions, more title defenses. All of George’s defeats have all been avenged which puts him in the rare array of defeating every man he ever faced in the octagon (even though he shares this with Khabib). Very difficult to find anything that makes Khabib’s UFC career superior to Georges in any way. Other than khabib has no losses while GSP has.

Spider Silva

10 title defenses, 6 champions beaten. Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin (2x), Chael ‘The American Gangster” Sonnen (2x), Demien Maia, Forest Griffin, Dan Henderson. The ‘Anderson Silva Era”, was something else. He did things inside the octagon that nobody ever did. But we must admit that Anderson has a lot of losses compared to others on this list (Khabib has none). He also doesn’t quite have as deep of a resume such as Jones and Rush (albeit I believe he has a better resume than Demetrious Johnson and maybe Khabib).

Anderson has failed drug tests too though. What we can’t deny is, no one looked as magical as Anderson Silva did during his prime, no one held the world title for longer in regard to time spent as champion, and most importantly no one can deny the impact Anderson Silva has had on mixed martial arts. But again with failed drug tests fans will raise questions on him being in goat conversation


Final thoughts

Khabib Nurmagomedov has enjoyed a fine career, undefeated with some huge victories over former champions such as Conor McGregor and Rafael Dos Anjos. He’s also had some great victories over Dustin Poirier, Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza, and Justin Gaetjhe. He fought in one of the most stacked divisions of UFC. He was literally flawless in his MMA career.  He made it look easy against everyone. He barely had a scratch on his face. His performances were practically perfect.

You can say that he is the greatest lightweight in UFC history but to say he is the greatest fighter in UFC history over the mentioned, that is a huge statement and one maybe feels uncomfortable making this statement. However, by building up a long title defense streak, currently at 3 title defenses, he would have been able to close the gap statistically and resume wisely. He is top 5 in discussing the goats and retired as the undefeated and undisputed lightweight champion of the world. I think he should be ranked after GSP and 2nd in the goat list and is the greatest lightweight of all time. I also can’t help but wonder how much greater his legacy would be had he stuck around a little longer or even been more active toward the end of his career. Maybe he comes back one day and adds much more to his already great legacy.

Upon his retirement many MMA world people declared him the goat. some of the names included: Joe Rogan, Cody No love, Dana White, Sean Shelby, Bret Okamoto, Kelvin Gastelum, Kamaru Usman, Alexander Volkanovski, Daniel Cormier.


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