‘Despite Many Defeats He Won the Lightweight Title’- Khabib Nurmagomedov Reveals Who His Greatest Lightweight Names Is

Published 09/05/2021, 12:47 AM EDT
MOSCOW, RUSSIA SEPTEMBER 2, 2021: Mixed martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov speaks at the 2nd New Knowledge educational marathon (forum). The New Knowledge Forum runs from 1 to 3 September 2021 as a new school year begins in Russia. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom GeodakyanTASS via Getty Images)


Despite being retired for nearly a year now, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s name is still associated with the UFC’s lightweight division. The undefeated phenom will go down as the most dominant champion in the division given his record and strength of schedule. It will take almost double the number of title defenses by some other champion before Nurmagomedov’s lightweight legacy is even compared.

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However, ‘The Eagle’ is as humble as they come and he openly spoke about his pick for the next best lightweight. From his point of view, Hawaii’s own BJ Penn is the second-best lightweight fighter to grace the UFC’s octagon. He spoke out at a press conference overseas and explained why Penn’s place in the history books is cemented.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA AUGUST 18, 2021: Russian mixed martial artist and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov gives a news conference. Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS (Photo by Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images)

“I think the impersonation of the lightweight division was BJ Penn for a long time,” Khabib answered. “I can explain… Despite many defeats (towards the end of his career), he won the lightweight title, defended it, and also moved up to welterweight and won the belt there.”

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“Then he had lost to one of the best fighters ever, Georges St-Pierre. So, for me, BJ Penn, I think we can put him there.” [h/t BJPENN.COM]

BJ Penn’s slew of losses certainly damaged his reputation in the eyes of newer MMA fans brought in by the ‘Conor McGregor wave’. However, his place as a pioneer for early MMA is undisputed in every sense of the word.

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BJ Penn: A legacy fighter

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The Prodigy’ made his professional MMA debut at UFC 31 and fought out most of his 32-fight career under the same banner. What made Penn the icon he is today was his willingness to take on all challengers regardless of weight class. He’s fought the likes of former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, a feat that seems rather absurd in hindsight.

Furthermore, his double champion status in the sport is what has truly memorialized him in the eyes of fans. While he could never get past certain fighters like Georges St-Pierre and Frankie Edgar, BJ Penn never backed down.

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It will be interesting to see how the history books treat him considering he is 1-7-1 in his last nine fights. His last professional win came against Matt Hughes in 2010 and he never regained his footing after that.

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Darryl Pinto

1875 articles

Darryl Pinto is a senior MMA writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his graduate degree in Mass Media (with a specialization in Journalism) out of Xavier’s College and has a year's experience in his current role. Darryl specializes in predictions, reporting, and covering UFC events live.

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