Anthony Pettis may have a fight booked with #1 contender Gilbert Melendez on December 6th, but that hasn’t stopped Khabib Nurmagomedov from making the case as to why he could be the next lightweight champ.
Now, Nurmagomedov may not be a fan favorite with the ‘just stand-and-bang’ contingent, but there’s no question that the sambo master has been ridiculously impressive in the UFC.
Since signing with the promotion in 2012, Nurmagomedov has won six straight to work his way into the #2 ranking position. During that time, he’s scored wins over notable vets like Pat Healy, Abel Trujillo and most recently Rafael dos Anjos.
In some of the fights, his grappling game has been so dominant, even the term ‘rag dolling’ seemed like an understatement.
In other words, no one so far has had an answer for “The Eagle’s” takedowns and top game, and the lightweight believes that’s why he’ll end the reign of Pettis. While speaking on “The MMA Hour” recently, here is some of what Nurmagomedov had to say about the feared striker (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“I think he [doesn’t] want this fight,” he said of Pettis. “I am no good for his style. My pressure, my wrestling, my top control, it’s no good for him. He said he wants to fight Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz lose many times in the UFC, and I am undefeated. I am the next contender. But he’s not saying ‘Khabib is good, Khabib is undefeated, Khabib is 6-0,’ he’s not saying nothing. I think he [doesn’t] want this fight.”
While there’s no doubt that Pettis would do everything in his power to keep a fight with Nurmagomedov standing, the champ also has a ground game that you can’t sleep on. Just ask Benson Henderson. There’s also a chance Melendez could be champion by December 7th.
While one can understand why Nurmagomedov is doing some self promoting here, chances are the undefeated fighter needs one more win to lock up a title shot. Nurmagomedov was going to fight fellow contender Donald Cerrone at UFC 178, but a knee injury forced him to withdraw.
When asked if his stifling and grinding approach has possibly held back his title shot drive–as we all know that can play a factor–Nurmagomedov stated:
“When I’m fighting Dos Anjos, he’s a very good guy — finishing him is very hard, everybody knows,” he said. “Gleison Tibau, he’s a beast. I finished Thiago Tavares — Thiago Tavares is very good, too. Abel Trujillo, he’s a beast. Before his fight with me, he killed one guy. After his fight with me, he killed three guys. He’s a very good guy, Abel Trujillo is. [Nobody] has ever finished Pat Healy in the UFC. I think my opponents are very good and strong guys. I know I [haven’t] finished, but I’ve smashed everybody in striking, ground and pound, wrestling, everywhere.”
No arguments here. It will be interesting to see when and who Nurmagomedov fights again. 2015 could be a big year for the 22-0 fighter.