Khabib Nurmagomedov Picks the Future UFC Lightweight Champion-and It’s Not Conor McGregor

Published 03/26/2021, 11:10 PM EDT
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 06: Khabib Nurmagomedov interacts with media during the UFC 249 press conference at T-Mobile Arena on March 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


The lightweight division has always been one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC. In recent years, that notion has only solidified. The likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor, and now most recently Michael Chandler are all exceptional fighters who are capable of beating each other. 

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With Khabib announcing his retirement, the 155-pound throne lies vacant. Just minutes after Dana White confirmed the same, news broke out that Michael Chandler would take on Charles Oliveira for the lightweight belt at UFC 262. In a recent interview, however, Nurmagomedov made a surprise pick for who he thinks will be champion by the end of this year or early 2022. 

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Khabib Nurmagomedov hypes up Islam Makhachev 

In a recent interview, Laura Sanko asked Nurmagomedov for his pick as the next best lightweight.

He said, “I think now people talk about Chandler, Oliveira, Dustin, Conor, Gaethje. Like my opinion, like end of the year, beginning of next year, it’s going to be Islam Makhachev. Maybe people think oh, I’m just promote him. No, it’s like I know how good this kid.”

‘The Eagle’ continued, “And everybody who ever compete with him like inside the cage or on the mats, wresting, grappling, sparring they know this….. For example, Leon Edwards or Kamaru Usman, this is welterweight guys. ‘DC’ me, lot of guys that compete with this guy know. If nothing happen, Islam gonna be 2022 he’s going to be best lightweight in the world.”

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For a long time now Khabib has maintained that once he was done fighting, Islam would carry the legacy forward. ‘The Eagle’ has always held Makhachev in high regard. However, Makhachev has not been able to stamp his authority on the lightweight division yet.

Due to multiple injuries, he has fought just seven times since suffering his last defeat at UFC 192. Despite his streak, he has never battled anyone in the top 5, nor has he entered the octagon for the third time in one calendar year. 

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However, after his most recent win, it is very likely that a top 5 opponent would be next for Islam Makhachev. Furthermore, he would look to have a highly active 2021 after being inactive throughout 2020.  

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Kevin Binoy

848 articles

Kevin Binoy is an MMA author at EssentiallySports. He earned a Bachelor's degree from Fergusson College and has been covering sports professionally for over two years. Besides working with the MMA writing team, Kevin is a core member of the organization's web stories team and is responsible for delivering engaging MMA web stories.

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