UFC boss snubs Khabib
Dana White didn't even name the Russian in his top five UFC stars of all-time
UFC president Dana White says undefeated former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is not in his list of the promotion’s top five fighters of all-time, also explaining why he would dismiss claims that the Russian is the ‘GOAT’ of his sport.
Khabib called time on his unblemished cage career after an emotional submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi in October 2020.
The Dagestani phenom said he would honor a promise to his mother not to compete after the death of father and mentor Abdulmanap due to Covid complications earlier that year.
‘The Eagle’ has been true to his word despite the best efforts of White and others to entice him back to the Octagon for a shot at the fabled 30-0 mark, and Khabib has since focused his efforts on training the likes of current 155lbs title contender Islam Makhachev and building his own Eagle FC promotion.
Given his dominance during his fighting days, Khabib’s supporters have often made the case that he should bear the moniker of MMA’s ‘Greatest Of All Time’.
White, however, has argued that Khabib called it quits too early for that to be the case – with the Russian’s retirement coming when he was aged 32 and seemingly still in peak form.
“It’s so hard. Obviously, [Khabib’s] talented enough, who knows what he could accomplish, but he retired too early,” White told GQ when asked about Khabib’s GOAT credentials.
Instead, White pointed to long-time former light-heavyweight ruler Jon Jones, whose only official defeat in his career has come through disqualification.
Jones is currently eyeing a UFC return at heavyweight in a bid to join the exclusive ‘double champ’ club.
“Jon Jones is probably going to fight at heavyweight this year. Whatever you think about Jon, it’s hard not to call him the GOAT,” White added.
“Believe me when I say I tried to convince Khabib to come out of retirement. We’ll see what happens over the next couple of years, but I feel like he left in his prime. Look at what he did to Justin Gaethje just before he retired.”
Later asked to give his ‘all-time UFC top five’ list, White again did not name Khabib, despite the Russian officially being inducted into the promotion’s Hall of Fame this year.
“Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, GSP [Georges St-Pierre],” responded the UFC chief, adding as an afterthought: “There’s so many other people that should be on there…. Kamaru Usman should be on there.”
Elsewhere, White is excited about the impact that another Russian-born star could have on the promotion, pointing to undefeated Chechen fighter Khamzat Chimaev as potentially having the same effect as Conor McGregor when he first electrified the UFC scene.
Chimaev is next in action against fan favorite Nate Diaz in their UFC 279 main event in September.
Meanwhile, Khabib’s interest in the promotion is far from over as he is set to corner protegee Makhachev for his lightweight title shot against Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi in October.