5 grapplers in the UFC who could have beaten Khabib Nurmagomedov

UFC 256: Ferguson v Oliveira
UFC 256: Ferguson v Oliveira
David Barry Gear

The greatest lightweight in MMA history, Khabib Nurmagomedov recently retired undefeated. The Eagle’s dominance in the octagon was unmatched.

However, there are a few grapplers currently in the UFC who could have potentially caused the now-former UFC champion problems. From welterweight contenders to a featherweight wild card, here are 5 grapplers in the UFC that could have beaten Khabib Nurmagomedov.

#5 Michael Chiesa

UFC 239 Sanchez v Chiesa
UFC 239 Sanchez v Chiesa

The number 7 ranked UFC welterweight would’ve posed some problems for Khabib in the octagon. Chiesa is currently on a four-fight winning streak and is undefeated at welterweight in the UFC.

The former lightweight holds UFC victories over former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, Jim Miller, Beneil Dariush, Carlos Condit and Neil Magny.

At 6 feet 1 and with a 75-inch reach, Chiesa has the length and size to not only keep the fight standing but also potentially submit Khabib on the ground. Whether the fight took place at lightweight or welterweight, it would be a fascinating matchup between dominant grapplers.

#4 Bryce Mitchell

UFC Fight Night: Mitchell v Fili
UFC Fight Night: Mitchell v Fili

Bryce Mitchell, the undefeated UFC featherweight contender, is the wild card pick to have beaten Khabib in the octagon.

Mitchell has proven to be a world-class grappler in the UFC, being just one of a select few fighters to successfully execute a twister submission inside the octagon.

At 14-0 so far in his MMA career, he could use a couple more fights before facing the Dagestani legend.

Now Thug Nasty would be giving up a significant amount of size to Nurmagomedov. However, with his next-level grappling skills, he could lock in a submission at any time.

#3 Charles Oliveira

UFC 256: Weigh-Ins
UFC 256: Weigh-Ins

Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira would’ve been the toughest lightweight grappler that Khabib faced in the Octagon.

Oliveira holds the record for the most submissions in the UFC at 14. He is tied for the most finishes in the UFC at 16 and the Brazilian lightweight is currently riding an 8-fight win streak.

In his most recent performance, Oliveira dominated Khabib Nurmagomedov's longtime rival, Tony Ferguson. He is scheduled to fight Michael Chandler for the vacant UFC lightweight championship at UFC 262 in Houston.

A matchup between Nurmagomedov and Oliveira would have been a captivating contest. Could Oliveira, the BJJ master, have become the first man to submit Nurmagomedov if they faced each other?

#2 Tony Ferguson

UFC 229: Ferguson v Pettis
UFC 229: Ferguson v Pettis

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson is the most cursed matchup in MMA history. A fight that MMA fans craved for many years, it sadly never took place.

The UFC scheduled the bout between the two lightweight greats multiple times, but injury, weight cut issues and a pandemic ruined their plans.

There is no doubt that at his peak, Tony Ferguson would’ve been a tough challenge for Khabib. El Cucuy’s unorthodox striking and grappling skills helped him win 12 fights straight in the octagon.

Stranger things have happened in the fight game, but it’s unlikely we will ever get the dream matchup between El Cucuy and The Eagle.

#1 Colby Covington

UFC Fight Night: Covington v Woodley
UFC Fight Night: Covington v Woodley

Now UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman would have been an obvious choice to beat Khabib. However, they are close friends so let’s look at another UFC welterweight that could test Nurmagomedov.

Colby Chaos Covington is the number 1 ranked welterweight in the UFC. The All-American wrestler holds impressive UFC wins over former welterweight champions Tyron Woodley and Robbie Lawler, and a victory over former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.

Covington is famous for his insane cardio and his superior size would be a significant challenge for Khabib to overcome. In an interview with Submission Radio, Colby accused The Eagle of being scared to fight him:

“Ok, that’s cool, Khabib, you beat up a bunch of little guys, a bunch of little midgets. But you’re not going to fight in a real man’s weight class like 170 or welterweight, because you know I’m the man."

Add in the fierce rivalry with Khabib’s friend Usman and this clash would provide fireworks both inside and outside the octagon.

Edited by John Cunningham
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