In the grand scheme of things very few times in athletics are you able to write your ending? Khabib Nurmagomedov is getting that opportunity.
The fight "The Eagle" and his late father always truly wanted was Georges St- Pierre. The far majority in the game look at the now 39-year-old Canadian as the true G.O.A.T. When fighters talk of legacy, to vanquish "a" or "the" GOAT is what it's all about. Taking over that spot on the mantle.
The 28-0 Dagestani has an array of fighters he can walk off after. There's Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor. Even long shots Dan Hooker and Charles Oliveira all have skills that would lead to interesting fights. Or even his heir apparent at EaglesMMA, Islam Makhachev. But the target he wants most is St-Pierre.
Yes, Poirier clipped Khabib once or twice, but the ending was never truly in doubt. So running that back, while a good story for "The Diamond", doesn't provide a good enough back story to end an illustrious career on. As far as "El Cucuy" goes, in the words of Nurmagomedov's head coach, Javier Mendez; I'd just rather not see that fight get booked again. He's superstitious and has verbally worried about what will possibly happen if booked for a 6th time.
That fight may just have to go down in MMA history as a "what if". Much like a Daniel Cormier versus Fedor Emelianenko. Or a Ronda Rousey against Cyborg, or Matt Hughes versus Anderson Silva. And that's something MMA fans will just have to deal with.
Hooker has the firepower to bother Khabib and "Do Bronx" may be the best on the mat in the game. In any organization. And after losing to Paul Felder has rolled 7 straight wins.
Obviously back story and in cage abilities and competitiveness the best fight to finish with is Conor McGregor. Say what you will about the Irishman, but the one time in his career he's had the chance to run things back, he studied, and changed his game plan against Nate Diaz. Who himself would be an interesting match up as well.
Any of those can make a great case, at the same time making the case it shouldn't be Pierre. GSP had physical issues moving up to middleweight. They're all well documented by him, and even after beating Michael Bisping admitted it wasn't worth all the trouble.
So now at age 39, are we to expect him to go down one division that he dominated and two divisions from where he fought last? And like it? Yes, he has Firas Zahabi, John Danaher, and Freddie Roach working him hard. And he posted the pictures and video of himself too. He looks in better shape now than ever before. But outside shape is different than fighting shape. And to expect him to walk into the cage after 3 years, almost 40 by the time this fight would happen is a tough ask.
GSP always talked very openly about fighting someone for a reason. What would be the reason for this, at this point in his life? He's not going to have a 3rd career run at lightweight. So it doesn't make sense to one-off it again.
Deep down even Khabib knows its a far fetched idea that'll happen. That's why he's come off the "never" to ok maybe run it back with McGregor. And his demand for beating Poirier or Ferguso isn't a harsh ask. Although Poirier is way different than he was in 2014, so is McGregor. That would be his path of least resistance to get another crack at Nurmagomedov.
Unless of course Khabib Nurmagomedov throws a massive curveball at everyone and walks away after the Justin Gaethje fight; win lose or draw.Published 19 Aug 2020, 01:41 IST