‘I Was Offered Five Different Opponents’ – Khabib Nurmagomedov Reminisces Being 25–0

Published 04/07/2021, 12:57 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)


Even though he is now enjoying life in retirement, Khabib Nurmagomedov is arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time. The longest-reigning UFC lightweight champion, he is undefeated in his professional MMA career. ‘The Eagle’ has an overall record of 29-0 and a UFC record of 13-0.

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Nurmagomedov has had a plethora of great wins in his career, and he recently posted about one. He remembered how many fighters had squeezed out of the fight, thus leading him to face Al Iaquinta.

“It was the week when no fighters were found in lightweight division, but Al Iaquinta. I was offered five different top-ranked opponents, but all of the squeezed out with different excuses. At that moment I was 25:0, with 9:0 in UFC.

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Remembering the bizarre build-up to Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Iaquinta

Before the fight with Al Iaquinta, Nurmagomedov was already on a roll and was on his way to become the UFC lightweight champion. He was all set to face Tony Ferguson for the vacant championship, but ‘El Cucuy’ had to step away because of an injury.

Max Holloway was then touted as the replacement for Ferguson. But even that didn’t work as ‘Blessed’ was deemed unfit and had to be recused from the fight.

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Eventually, even Paul Felder threw his name for the match, but that could not happen. Finally, Al Iaquinta vs Nurmagomedov was finalized.

Nurmagomedov won the fight, thus starting his lightweight title journey, which would result in many records. ‘The Eagle’ won by unanimous decision and showed why he was considered the greatest lightweight fighter of the era.

Start of a great rivalry?

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Apart from everything else that happened with Nurmagomedov during that time, one thing created the most noise and it was the start of his rivalry with Conor McGregor. ‘The Notorious One’ had thrown a dolly at Nurmagomedov’s bus when he was leaving.

LAS VEGAS, CA – OCTOBER 06: Referee Herb Dean separates Conor McGregor, left, and Khabib Nurmagomedov during their fight at UFC 229 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. Friday, Oct. 6, 2018. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Digital First Media/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

McGregor fled the arena soon after, but that incident gave rise to a fierce rivalry that would entertain fans for years to come. McGregor and Nurmagomedov faced each other later that year, Nurmagomedov won the fight via submission and defended his title.

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Nurmagomedov is a legend, it’s difficult to remain undefeated in such a competitive sport, but ‘The Eagle’ did that. Nurmagomedov remained champion for almost three years after defeating Al Iquinta, but that first title victory will always remain special to him and his fans.

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Paras Pande

399 articles

Paras Pande is a UFC author at EssentiallySports who is pursuing his graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication. An ardent follower of the UFC, he has been covering the sport for 2 years now. Before joining the team at EssentiallySports, Paras gained expertise as an MMA writer whilst working with Sportskeeda.

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