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14th Apr 2018

Khabib Nurmagomedov gets tempting offer for first title defence

He has beaten everyone the UFC has put in front of him but, unfortunately, he has not had true greats put in front of him - yet

Patrick McCarry

Ahead of his fight against Justin Gaethje at UFC Glendale, Dustin Poirier ranked the current lightweight division thus:

  1. Conor McGregor
  2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (the champion)
  3. Tony Ferguson

‘The Diamond’ was full of praise for Nurmagomedov, who won the undisputed 155lbs belt at UFC 223, but pointed out that as long as McGregor is in the picture questions will be raised.

Nurmagomedov is regarded by many fight fans as the greatest active lightweight in the promotion, while other hard core followers see his as the best across all divisions. Still, ‘The Eagle’ has hardly cleared out the lightweight division to erase all doubts.

He wiped the floor with Rafael Dos Anjos, who later went on to become lightweight champ, in April 2014 before knee surgery saw him miss two years of action. Since his return in April 2016, his winning streak continued against Darrell Horcher, Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza and, to win the title, 11th ranked Al Iaquinta.

He has beaten everyone the UFC has put in front of him but, unfortunately, he has not had true greats put in front of him yet.

Eddie Alvarez wants a crack at the Dagestani next and believes their fight would settle most arguments as to who deserves the title or not. ‘The Underground King’, who is a former Strikeforce and UFC lightweight champion, told Luke Thomas:

“I’ve always fought champions; always fought the best guys in the world; and when I won my title, it was from the champion [Dos Anjos] and the guy that was number one. That is unlike the current thing that is going on, where you can fight No.8 [Kevin Lee] and be champion or fight No.11 [Iaquinta] and be champion. I actually fought the number one guy.

“So I would like to fight for the title and become champion. It would actually be odd for guys ranked number three, two and one to fight each other these days and for a title to be on the line. I’m going to change the game up.”

Asked if he would next fight Tony Ferguson, who was recently stripped of his interim lightweight title, to determine a true No.1 contender for the winner of Nurmagomedov versus McGregor, Alvarez had an interesting reply:

“Yeah. That is most likely what is going to happen.

“The problem with Tony is that that surgery [on his knee] looked bad. I thought that was a minor surgery but it looked like he got butchered… It looks like Conor is in pretty big [legal] trouble so I don’t know if that Nurmagomedov fight is going to happen soon.”

Alvarez is obviously a fan of the Rocky series as he is calling on the UFC to book him, a plucky Philadelphi native, to take on an undefeated and seemingly infallible Russian.

“In comes the dog,” he remarked, “how great would that be? If he dies, he dies!”