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Who did Khabib Nurmagomedov beat for the UFC lightweight title?

UFC 223: Nurmagomedov v Iaquinta
UFC 223: Nurmagomedov v Iaquinta
Harry Kettle
Modified 24 Mar 2021

On April 7, 2018, the world saw the final ascent of Khabib Nurmagomedov to the UFC throne as he won the UFC lightweight title at UFC 223.

He did so against Al Iaquinta in the main event in Brooklyn, New York. It came at the end of what can only be described as one of the most dramatic weeks in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The beginning of the Khabib Nurmagomedov era

At the start of the week, Nurmagomedov had initially been scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson for the title after returning against Edson Barboza at UFC 219 a few months prior. In that bout, he dominated Barboza and took his pro-MMA record to 25-0.

Unfortunately for mixed martial arts fans around the globe, we weren’t quite able to get the fight we all wanted to see. Ferguson sustained an injury that forced him out of the contest against Nurmagomedov.

The burden then fell, surprisingly, on featherweight king Max Holloway. He made the decision to step up and fight Nurmagomedov on short notice in an attempt to become a two-division world champion.

Alas, even that didn’t last long, with Holloway being deemed medically unfit to fight. This left Khabib without an opponent yet again until the savior Iaquinta stepped up.

Iaquinta made his presence known by entering himself into the equation as Khabib’s short notice challenger.


All of this came in a week that also saw Conor McGregor, along with a collection of his teammates and friends, attack a bus full of UFC fighters in an attempt to wage war against Nurmagomedov.

McGregor was unsuccessful, with Khabib turning his attention back to Iaquinta, who he beat by unanimous decision on fight night.

Nurmagomedov went on to defend the title three times against Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje. In all three of those contests, he was able to win via submission, cementing his legacy as the greatest lightweight the UFC has ever seen.

The Eagle made the decision to retire after his win over Gaethje at UFC 254, leaving his official record at 29-0.

It’s been a long road to get to this point, but Khabib Nurmagomedov’s greatness is now undeniable.

Published 24 Mar 2021, 19:23 IST
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