Khabib Nurmagomedov spoke to the media in a recent exchange and explained exactly why the idea of switching between weight-classes isn’t as appealing as a run at lightweight.
To his credit, staying unbeaten in the most stacked weight-class in the sport is something that should be commended but in the modern-day landscape of MMA, where super-fights are paramount, the idea of testing yourself against the heavier fighters is a thing that the mainstream fans are demanding with increasing regularity.
Traditionally, staying put has produced some of the most revered fighters in MMA history.
Looking at the likes of Jon Jones, GSP, and José Aldo – a dominant run as champion has often been enough to see one’s status as a legend solidified, and in the case of Nurmagomedov, he believes that lightweight is his one and only home.
Of course, he also recently claimed that his days in the sport are now numbered and in a recent media conference call ahead of UFC 242 – he explained why the idea of sticking to his own division is the route that appeals to him and his views of his legacy the most.
“I think if you want to improve your legacy by changing weight classes, I don’t think this is help for you. Only one thing helps for you. You have to beat up-and-comers. What about when you beat tough opponents and you’re still undefeated more than the others. I think this is going to improve your legacy.
“If you lose couple times and you win one title, second title, you lose again, and then you win third title, this does not make you great. My opinion, when you’re undefeated long time and you never lose, this is when it’s real thing.
“When you go to the cage and again, again, again, you win, win, win, win, that helps to talk about ‘this guy is tough’. I don’t focus on welterweight or featherweight, my focus is the lightweight division.
“I’m a real lightweight and my fights are going to be in the lightweight division. I don’t want to change any weight classes. I want to focus on my weight division.”
Signing Khabib for a return to the octagon in Abu Dhabi was a genius move from the UFC brass – one that could well allow him to truly blossom as a commodity but with the test offered by Dustin Poirier still to be passed, who knows how 155lbs will look by the time Sunday morning comes around.