Khabib Nurmagomedov continues to make a name for himself in and out of the Octagon, as in addition to calling out BJ Penn recently, the lightweight has challenged TJ Grant to fight at UFC 165 in September. Although the former World Sambo champ has gone 4-0 to date in the UFC, has a 20-0 record, and is coming off an absolute mauling of Abel Trujillo, Nurmagomedov isn’t ranked in the top ten. Defeating either of those guys, especially the man who was just scheduled to fight champion Benson Henderson, would be a pretty good way to move up the ranks.
“The Eagle” recently did an interview with the UFC’s Thomas Gerbasi, and while discussing his hopes for the future, the 24 year-old stated:
“I have asked for a fight with BJ Penn but I have not received a response,” he said. “Perhaps they have different plans for him. I wanted to fight someone I watched on TV when I was younger. He is a legend.”
“If BJ is not available I would love to fight (TJ) Grant,” said Nurmagomedov. “If he feels that he is the next title contender let him prove it by beating me at UFC 165 (September 21) in his homeland.”
Grant recently stated he’s hoping to return from the concussion that pulled him from UFC 164 in November. So, as of right now, it doesn’t look like the surging lightweight would be ready to go in September. There’s also the issue as to whether Grant would agree to fight someone like Nurmagomedov, who isn’t ranked in the top ten…yet. As far as Penn, it remains to be seen when he might compete again, and whether he’s looking to fight emerging lightweights or more established vets from here on out.
Of course, either fight would be a must see.