Retired UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says that he would be “motivated” to fight the legendary Georges St-Pierre but reserved some less kind words for his lightweight rivals Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
UFC boss Dana White has engaged in a months-long campaign to compel Nurmagomedov to reverse the retirement decision he announced in the cage in Abu Dhabi following a win against Justin Gaethje last October – but this has been met with mostly deaf ears by the undefeated Dagestani fighter.
White met with Khabib during the UFC’s most recent residency of events on ‘Fight Island’ but instead of a definitive answer with regard to the status of Nurmagomedov’s fighting future, White instead gave his fighter more time to – he hopes – reverse his decision ahead of a further reported meeting between the two in Las Vegas in the coming weeks.
But as Nurmagomedov detailed in an interview with ACA fighter Magomed Ismailov, there is only one name which could potentially tempt him back to the Octagon – and it’s not the Conor McGregor fight White is attempting to make a reality.
“Look, you name me any fighter in the UFC right now, none of these names interest me,” Khabib said. “I mean that they don’t give me some fire or excitement. But when I hear the name GSP then I want to stand up and run 10 kilometeres right away, this fighter motivates me that much.
“You know, even when I’m 50 years old I’ll still want to wrestle someone and compete for fun. The feeling will always be there. Why so? Well that’s because my father taught me so. My father would always wrestle, even when he was above 50 years and this is instilled into me.”
But among the current lightweight roster, there is no-one who raises his pulse.
“For example, Charles Oliveira. No doubt he is good but it doesn’t excite me. Michael Chandler came into the UFC and won but we saw that he’s been KO’d. It doesn’t excite me,” he said.
“Rafael Dos Anjos, Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, they are all former champions. I beat all these guys and they don’t motivate me anymore but when you say about Georges St-Pierre, this name really motivates me.”
However, before Dana White licks his chops at the prospect of a super-fight between two of the organization’s winningest competitors, Nurmagomedov says that as much as likes the potential bout, he just doesn’t see it as a viable option.
“GSP really makes me excited and so on but it’s all over, brother. He’s 40 years old, let’s not bother him either,” he said definitively.
Of course, one other name to whom Khabib was repeatedly linked was Tony Ferguson. On numerous occasions over the past several years the two standout 155lbs fighters were booked against one another but fate – or the Fight Gods – conspired to axe the contest at every turn.
But had the fight gone ahead, Khabib says there would have been just one victor.
“Maybe that would be Tony Ferguson but I swear that I never considered him an elite lightweight,” Khabib said. “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 Khabib can’t do this.
“At 37 years old 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 and 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 Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. They outclassed him, you saw this. Both fighters just dominated Tony.”
In the end, though, Khabib says that the fight between he and Ferguson wasn’t destined to happen – but if it did, he says that the enigmatic ‘El Cucuy’ would be just another name on his list of vanquished victims.
“I was just dreaming about this fight but it wasn’t destined,” he explained. “We had injuries in a row. When it’s not meant to happen then you can do nothing about that… I’d dominate him like all the others. He wouldn’t be able to do anything in grappling or striking. I would smash him.”