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5 current UFC lightweights Khabib Nurmagomedov would possibly struggle against

Would any of today's lightweights be able to trouble Khabib?
Would any of today's lightweights be able to trouble Khabib?
Ivan Derrick

Khabib Nurmagomedov retired from MMA last year with his undefeated record of 29-0 still in tact. He has since transitioned to life as a coach and has surprisingly emerged as a candidate for coach of the year in 2021.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially retired, per Dana White. They met earlier this week in Las Vegas, Nurmagomedov reiterated his stance that he wanted to be done fighting and now White is standing down in his attempts to convince him to return to action any time soon.

As a fighter, Nurmagomedov was dominant. He captured the UFC lightweight title in 2018 and then finished his next three opponents before retiring away from the sport. Nurmagomedov is still just 33 years old and remains in great shape.

While there is no indication 'The Eagle' has any desire to return to the octagon, he likely would still be the favorite booked against any of the UFC's lightweights today.

With that being said, lightweight remains one of the deepest divisions in all of the UFC. Some fighters have stepped into the spotlight following Khabib's retirement whilst other familiar faces have continued to improve.

While Nurmagomedov's return does not seem to be on the cards, here are the five current lightweights who would have the best chance of causing 'Eagle' some problems in the octagon today:


#5. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Chandler

Khabib's last UFC fight came prior to Chandler's first
Khabib's last UFC fight came prior to Chandler's first

If Justin Gaethje had been injured in the days leading up to UFC 254, we would have seen Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Chandler for the UFC lightweight championship at that event.

Michael Chandler has officially signed with UFC, Dana White announced on @SportsCenter. Chandler will serve as a backup fighter for the #UFC254 main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. https://t.co/7zs1dRwMK1

Instead, Nurmagomedov dominated Gaethje and Chandler has since gone 1-2 in his UFC career. While this might seem an odd choice given Chandler's recent loss to Gaethje, Chandler's skillset may match-up a little better against Khabib than 'The Highlight'.

Chandler has stated he feels he is the superior wrestler to Gaethje. He is also usually the heavier man on fight night, so he may have a little more success preventing the takedown in a fight with Khabib. Additionally, Chandler proved he has knock-out power in his hands in his win over Dan Hooker.

One would still imagine that Khabib would likely still be able to overwhelm Chandler. However if 'Highlight' find a way to keep the fight standing long enough to land a big shot, he might just stand a chance.


#4. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier II

Poirier will soon get another shot at lightweight gold after Khabib spoiled his first
Poirier will soon get another shot at lightweight gold after Khabib spoiled his first

While the first encounter between the two saw Khabib Nurmagomedov submit Dustin Poirier in the third round at UFC 242, Poirier has been sensational ever since.

Poirier has won three straight since beating Dan Hooker once and Conor McGregor twice. He will have a chance to make it four in a row on December 11th at UFC 269 when he faces Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title.

Poirier did appear to have Nurmagomedov in momentary trouble when he locked in a deep guillotine in their fight. Since then, Poirier has twice finished McGregor quicker than 'Eagle' was able to as well.

Khabib Nurmagomedov admits Dustin Poirier's guillotine was "close" to putting him away. #UFC242

While Poirier will likely once again be the underdog in a rematch with Nurmagomedov, he certainly has the potential to cause some problems in the octagon.


#3. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor II

All three judges felt McGregor won the third round of his fight with Khabib
All three judges felt McGregor won the third round of his fight with Khabib

Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Conor McGregor is one of the greatest feuds in MMA history. When they did fight at UFC 229, Nurmagomedov was able to pick up the win via submission in the fourth round of the fight.

However, compared to Nurmagomedov's other opponents, McGregor's performance was relatively impressive. 'Notorious' was even able to become the first fighter to win a round over 'Eagle' in the third-round of that bout.

McGregor wins round 3. Showing no respect for Khabib's striking even though he was dropped in round 2.

McGregor evidently has some aspects of his game that he can be effective against Khabib with. If he is able to put his losses behind him and utilize his strengths to get up from a takedown and storied knock-out power, he could still pose a threat to 'Eagle'.


#2. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Charles Oliveira

Could the current lightweight champion defeat his predecessor?
Could the current lightweight champion defeat his predecessor?

Charles Oliveira was the man to claim the UFC lightweight championship after it was vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov. He has looked sensational in recent bouts and has not lost since 2017.

I know, I know … but Charles Oliveira vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov would have been fun.

Oliveira is extremely good at finding submissions off of his back. This could be incredibly useful in a fight against Khabib as it is very likely he will find himself getting taken down at some point in the fight.

However, Nurmagomedov's Dagestani style of grappling appears to still be effective against jiu jitsu specialists like Oliveira. His pressure on top could still lead to Nurmagomedov coming out on top in this one.


#1. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Islam Makhachev

UFC Fight Night: Makhachev v Moises
UFC Fight Night: Makhachev v Moises

While you can pretty much guarantee that we will never see this bout, just imagine what a spectacle it would be. They are two of the greatest grapplers the sport has ever seen and the student vs. master dynamic would add another level of intrigue.

Here's how Islam Makhachev stacks up to longtime trainer partner, now coach, Khabib Nurmagomedov 📊 #UFCVegas31 https://t.co/cFpOssu9Q3

While Nurmagomedov throughout his career appeared to be the superior fighter to Islam Makhachev, has now changed roles and may not be pushing himself to the same level as his student who continues to compete regularly.

Perhaps ring-rust could be a factor if Nurmagomedov had to shake off a few cobwebs early, Makhachev might be able to take advantage. With that being said, Makhachev might also struggle with not having Khabib in his corner as coach.

live poll LIVE POLL

Q. Who would win?

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Islam Makhachev

56 votes so far

Edited by Josh Evanoff

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