UFC: Dana White thinks Khabib Nurmagomedov will try to go for 30-0

This past Saturday at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Gaethje to retain his lightweight championship of the world. It was an emotional ending for Nurmagomedov who fought for the first time since his father had passed away.

Following the fight, Nurmagomedov laid his gloves in the middle of the octagon and announced his retirement. Many in the UFC community were not expecting this to happen. Nurmagomedov’s father’s dream had been for him to go 30-0 then retire.

However, Khabib said that he promised his mother that UFC 254 would be his last fight. Just a few days later, and we are hearing that he might not be done. Since the announcement, UFC President Dana White has had a chance to talk with Nurmagomedov.

White seems to think Khabib might have been in the moment. He told CBS Sports Zach Gelb, “Khabib and I have been talking. He was completely emotional that night when he got through that fight. I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0.”

The UFC’s options for Khabib

There are a few options for the UFC when it comes to Khabib Nurmagomedov and his 30th fight. However, I think that there is one clear fight for him to cap off his career and his legacy. That would be a fight with Georges St. Pierre.

GSP is known as arguably the greatest of all time. He was a dominant champion in the welterweight division, then he moved up to capture the UFC middleweight title. He’s always been interested in coming out of retirement for the Nurmagomedov fight.

GSP recently told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that he was happy for Khabib after the retirement. However, he said that his door would be open if Khabib was interested in coming back and facing him. That could very well be the case if what White’s saying comes true.

Of course, the UFC could always try to book the Conor McGregor rematch. However, Khabib has already won that war in his eyes. A fight with GSP would be a legacy fight for both men and a very rare opportunity for fight fans around the globe to see arguably the two greatest of all time go head to head.

UFC 254 drastically underperforms PPV expectations

Last Saturday at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) defeated Justin Gaethje (22-3) to retain his lightweight championship. The fight was one of the more anticipated matchups of the year, and was being built as arguably the biggest fight of the year.

The week prior to the fight, Dana White talked about how the fight was trending. He pointed to the star power of the lightweight champion, Nurmagomedov. The expectation was that this card would do massively well for the promotion on PPV.

In fact, White mentioned that the fight was trending higher than Nurmagomedov – McGregor. The grudge match between those two that came back at UFC 229 was the highest PPV buy rate the UFC has ever seen hitting 2.4 million buys.

However, the numbers have come in, and they are significantly lower than UFC 229. In fact, they are significantly lower than even the highest PPV buy rate from 2020. Per the Sports Business-Journal, UFC 254 only hit 675,000 PPV buys worldwide.

Was UFC 254 a disappointment?

At 675,000 buys, UFC 254 ranks as the fifth most watched UFC PPV this year. This card was behind UFC 251, UFC 249, UFC 253, and UFC 246. Those cards all had star power like Conor McGregor, Jorge Masvidal, and Israel Adesanya.

The only card that didn’t have massive star power was 249, but that was the first event that the promotion held after the shutdown. That number was expected to be massively high. Nevertheless, last Saturday night was a disappointing result for the promotion.

Now there were a couple of things that could have hurt the PPV. For one, the card started at 2 PM ET which is eight hours earlier than normal. They did this to put Nurmagomedov in primetime for the fans in the middle east.

However, Nurmagomedov’s last fight in Abu Dhabi was estimated to have done about one million buys. I have to say, I’m pretty shocked myself. Given the magnitude of the fight, I was expecting it to be close to one million when it came to PPV buys.

I knew it wasn’t going to touch McGregor – Nurmagomedov. That was a pipedream for the promotion. However, the result might tell you that Nurmagomedov is not as big of a star as the promotion would have you believe. Either way, definitely a disappointment for the promotion on Saturday.

Could the UFC do a lightweight tournament?

UFC, Dana White

This past weekend at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Gaethje to retain his lightweight championship. After the fight was over, Khabib laid his gloves in the center of the octagon and said that he had fought his final fight in the UFC.

With that, the UFC‘s lightweight division has just been blown open. Nobody really knows what the promotion is going to do with the lightweight title now that Khabib Nurmagomedov is walking away from the sport.

Michael Chandler was in attendance because he was the backup fighter. Chandler had a suggestion for the UFC and that was to put on a lightweight tournament for the vacant title. The UFC hasn’t put on tournaments since the early days.

Well, I guess there was the flyweight tournament back in 2012. However, that was to crown a new champion in a new division. Chandler’s idea is definitely interesting for the promotion. I could also see the promotion making the Conor McGregorDustin Poirier fight for the title.

McGregor is the last undisputed lightweight champion not named Khabib Nurmagomedov. Meanwhile Poirier is the former UFC interim lightweight champion and he knocked out Justin Gaethje who was the interim champion entering UFC 254.

What will the UFC do?

There are a lot of people who want to see Justin Gaethje right back in a title fight. However, I don’t think the UFC is going to do that. The McGregor – Poirier fight just makes too much sense for the vacant lightweight championship.

I think you’ll see the UFC look to book Michael Chandler against Tony Ferguson. I think they really want to make that fight, and it would be a fun matchup for fans. They could then make a fight between Justin Gaethje and Dan Hooker.

The winners of those two fights could then face off for a chance to fight the winner of the McGregor – Poirier fight. The UFC is planning on McGregor – Poirier in January, and I bet the winner likely wouldn’t defend the title until the July PPV.

That would give the promotion time in the middle to have the winners face each other. So in a sense, it would be like a tournament. However, it would be a tournament to face the champion which will be decided in January.

I don’t know what the UFC will do and frankly they probably won’t do that. However, I think this would be a good way to get everyone matched up. The McGregor – Poirier fight is already almost done, why not up the stakes and make it even bigger by throwing the title on the line?

UFC Matchmaker: Jared Cannonier – Paulo Costa

This past weekend at UFC 254, Jared Cannonier (13-5) had his chance to cement his status as the number one contender in the middleweight division. He took on former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker in the UFC 254 co-main event.

Cannonier had a couple of bright spots in the fight. He hurt Whittaker early with leg kicks, and wobbled Whittaker in the final minute of the fight. However, outside of those, it was a clear win for the former UFC champion.

Whittaker almost finished Cannonier early on in the third round with a headkick. The loss was the first loss for Cannonier since he dropped down to the middleweight division. Cannonier had been called out by UFC champion, Israel Adesanya, before the loss.

Now that Cannonier has suffered the loss, it’s back to the drawing board for the Killa Gorilla. In looking around at the rest of the middleweight division, I think there is a clear next step for the UFC. I think that the promotion should book Jared Cannonier – Paulo Costa (13-1).

Will the UFC make it happen?

This is the fight that just makes too much sense. Costa is coming off of a title loss to Adesanya at UFC 253. Prior to that loss, he was looked at as arguably the most terrifying contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

Cannonier just fought the former champion when he carried in a similar reputation. Both men lost in their big opportunities. The quickest way to have one of them re-establish their credibility in the division is to have one fight the other.

This would be a fantastic matchup for the UFC to make. The promotion is likely going to book the Adesanya – Whittaker rematch, and they could put this fight as the co-main event. The winner would re-establish themselves as the top contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

Does Lauren Murphy deserve a title shot after UFC 254?

Lauren Murphy, UFC

One of the more vocal fighters after UFC 254 was flyweight contender, Lauren Murphy (14-4). Murphy was originally supposed to take on Cynthia Calvillo, but at the last minute she ended up fighting Lilya Shakirova at UFC 254.

The flyweight contender looked really solid in all areas on Saturday. Murphy looked solid on the feet, and she showed good skills on the ground. Murphy said she wanted to lock up her first submission victory and she was able to do just that.

UFC 254 marked the fourth straight time that Murphy has made the walk successfully. She’s taken on ranked opponents in the division and finished two of her last four opponents. Murphy was very vocal about wanting a title shot in her post-fight interview.

Later on at the post-fight press conference, Murphy continued to show frustrations of getting passed up. She talked about Jennifer Maia. getting the next shot at Valentina Shevchenko. Let’s just say that Murphy is not thrilled with Maia’s title shot.

What should the UFC do?

For context, JoJo Calderwood was originally supposed to face Valentina Shevchenko in June. However, the UFC champion sustained an injury that would cause the fight to be delayed. Calderwood decided to roll the dice and fight Maia.

Maia went on to finish Calderwood by submission in the first round. Because of the finish of the top contender, the UFC decided to give Maia the shot. However, her resume doesn’t really scream top contender as she’s just 3-2 in her last five fights.

Granted, her two losses were to former title challengers. Murphy does have a point in that she’s won four in a row against ranked caliber opponents. So what should the UFC do? Obviously, the promotion isn’t going to take away the title fight from Maia.

I also don’t think sitting and waiting is going to help Murphy. Instead, I think the UFC should book her against who’s probably the front runner for the next title shot, Jessica Andrade. Andrade made her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Island 6 and finished top contender Katlyn Chookagian. 

The former strawweight champion is finally competing in what she believes is her natural weight class. Andrade just fought and Murphy just fought. The logical move to me is to have the UFC pair both of them together and the winner should fight the flyweight champion early next year.

What’s next for Walt Harris after UFC 254

It was a rough night at the office for The Big Ticket this past Saturday. At UFC 254, Walt Harris (13-9, 1 NC) took on Alexander Volkov (32-8) on the PPV main card. Harris was looking to bounce back after his loss to Alistair Overeem back in May.

2019 was a breakout year for the fighting career of Walt Harris. The Big Ticket scored two first round knockouts which put him inside the top ten. However, tragedy would strike the Harris family as their daughter Aniah was murdered just about a year ago.

Harris took some time away to recover emotionally from the tragedy. Following this, he made his courageous return to the UFC back in May where he fought Overeem. Harris stormed out of the gate and dropped Overeem in the opening round.

Harris appeared to be seconds away from scoring his third straight first round knockouts. However, Overeem survived the onslaught from Harris. Harris emptied the tanks trying to finish Overeem in the first, and looked exhausted in the second.

Overeem took advantage and was able to get the win. On Saturday at UFC 254, Harris just could never get going against Volkov. The extremely long Russian kept Harris out of range all night. Eventually a big body kick from Volkov led to a TKO victory.

What’s next for Harris after UFC 254?

One can only imagine what the last 12 months have been like for Walt Harris. 2020 has not been ideal when it comes to his UFC career given the results. However, I will say that I was encouraged by the attitude and mental state of Harris leading up to UFC 254.

He seemed that he had his confidence back. He claimed that the believed when he was at his best, he was the best heavyweight striker in the UFC. Obviously, Harris didn’t perform at his best on Saturday night, but don’t count him out yet.

In terms of what’s next for Harris after the victory, I think a good next matchup would be one with Blagoy Ivanov (18-4, 1 NC). Ivanov is about as tough as they come, but he’s also on a two fight losing streak inside the UFC.

Both men will still be ranked inside the top 15 once the new rankings come out this week. They are in similar positions right now, so I believe it would be a good idea to pair these two up against each other.

UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov’s legacy after retiring 29-0

This past weekend at UFC 254, one of the greatest to ever do it fought for the final time. Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) successfully defended his lightweight crown against former interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-3).

UFC 254 proved to be another dominant victory for Nurmagomedov. Facing the guy who many believed would be his toughest challenger, Nurmagomedov put on arguably the best performance of his career.

After an initial feeling out process, Nurmagomedov’s pressure slowly broke Justin Gaethje. In the second round, a takedown led to a triangle choke victory for the champion. When the fight was over, Nurmagomedov laid his gloves in the octagon and retired at UFC 254.

It’s a move that took many by surprise, however, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Many wondered if Nurmagomedov would ever compete again after he lost his father earlier this year to COVID-19. Khabib’s father had been his lead trainer as well.

However, Nurmagomedov said he felt that he had to complete this final fight. He promised his mother that he would walk away from the UFC after this contest, and I believe him. I think we’ve seen the last of Khabib Nurmagomedov inside the octagon.

Khabib’s UFC Legacy

Simply put, Khabib Nurmagomedov is one of the greatest to ever do it. He has a very strong argument as the greatest fighter to ever step foot inside the UFC‘s octagon. He leaves undefeated with no asterisks on his record.

Jon Jones is the GOAT in the eyes of many, however, you can’t say his record is nearly as clean. When it comes to longevity and resume of wins, you’d have to lean towards Jones, however, the USADA issues can’t be ignored when examining his overall legacy.

With Nurmagomedov, you have a clean resume. The most dominant lightweight to ever compete in the UFC. He defeated every top challenger in the division outside of Tony Ferguson. That fight was attempted to be made five times, however, it never came together.

At the end of the day, as a fight fan, I’m sad that we won’t see Nurmagomedov compete anymore. However, I’m glad I got to witness his prime and see his dominance. Nurmagomedov went out on top, and 29-0 is something we may never see again in the UFC.

Should the UFC book Adesanya – Whittaker 2?

After Israel Adesanya defeated Paulo Costa at UFC 253, he made it clear on who he had his eyes on. In the middleweight division, he openly told Jared Cannonier that if he destroyed Robert Whittaker, he would get the next UFC title shot.

Those two men faced off yesterday at UFC 254. The former champion, Whittaker, was trying to get back to the title after losing it to Adesanya last year. Cannonier had been a destroyer at middleweight and he was also looking to challenge Adesanya.

Cannonier did have moments yesterday, but in the end, it was all Robert Whittaker. To me, Robert Whittaker proved he was the class of the division yesterday outside of Israel Adesanya. Whittaker clearly won the fight from the opening bell to the closing bell at UFC 254.

Cannonier did have his moments, but Whittaker’s speed and accuracy flustered him all night. Whittaker even was seconds away from finishing the fight in the third round. With the win yesterday, Whittaker cemented himself as the top contender in the middleweight division.

Adesanya hasn’t seemed interested in a rematch with Whittaker. This year he had his eyes on new blood like Darren Till and Jared Cannonier. However, Whittaker has taken both of those contenders out to show the world he’s ready for another UFC title shot.

What should the UFC do?

I still think that the UFC should try to make the fight between Adesanya and Jon Jones. It’s the biggest fight they could make at the moment, however, it appears that the promotion is heading in a different direction as of right now.

Dana White said yesterday after UFC 254 that Whittaker would be getting the next shot. Outside of the loss to Adesanya, Whittaker has never lost in the middleweight division. In fact, before Adesanya took over, many thought Whittaker would control the division for years to come.

Whittaker didn’t seem to fight like himself when the two fought at UFC 243. He fought to Adesanya’s strengths and got picked apart for it. The Whittaker we’ve seen in 2020 looks like a guy who could give Adesanya a real challenge.

Adesanya said he wanted to get back into the cage quickly while Whittaker wants to take some time given the fact that his wife is about to have a baby. Maybe the UFC tries to get a fight for Adesanya at light heavyweight in the mean time. However, Whittaker is clearly next for the middleweight crown.

What’s next for Justin Gaethje after UFC 254?

Yesterday, Justin Gaethje got the opportunity he’s worked his whole career for. He got the chance to headline against arguably the greatest of all time at UFC 254. Gaethje entered the cage yesterday as the interim champion.

Standing across from him was the undisputed king, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov entered a perfect 28-0, and nobody had really ever come close to defeating the UFC‘s lightweight champion.

However, Gaethje was looked at as the most dangerous opponent. He brought power striking and wrestling credentials to the table. Khabib’s star factor and Gaethje’s style made yesterday must see TV for any fan of the UFC.

There were a couple of times during the fight that Gaethje looked good. He hit Khabib with some good leg kicks, and he landed some solid shots. However, he really struggled with the pressure that Khabib put on him in the UFC 254 main event.

Nurmagomedov showed no respect for the power of Gaethje. He just walked through everything and you could tell he was tiring Gaethje. In the second round, Nurmagomedov secured a takedown and transitioned to a triangle choke where he put Gaethje to sleep.

What’s next for Gaethje after UFC 254?

No matter how you slice it, UFC 254 was a disappointment for Justin Gaethje. However, there’s no shame in it considering all the best at lightweight have suffered the same fate at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Nurmagomedov retired after the main event concluded yesterday which opens the lightweight division up. Gaethje should be right back in the conversation for a crack at the vacant UFC lightweight champion.

In his post-fight interview, Gaethje had mentioned that he didn’t take a ton of damage so he wanted to get right back in there. I think the UFC is probably going to make McGregor – Poirier the fight for the vacant UFC championship.

Gaethje deserves a spot in the conversation, but I think the promotion ultimately goes that way. That being said, I would love to see Gaethje paired up with Michael Chandler. Chandler was the backup fighter for yesterday’s UFC 254 main event.

The promotion holds him in high regards so I think it would be fitting to pair the two up. Either make them a main event or put them on the same card as McGregor-Poirier. The two winners face off in the summer for the UFC lightweight championship.

Could McGregor – Poirier be for the vacant UFC lightweight title?

Conor McGregor, UFC

Yesterday at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) completely dominated Justin Gaethje (22-3) and retained his lightweight champion. Nurmagomedov was overcome with emotions after he was able to win by triangle choke.

The UFC lightweight champion lost his father earlier this year due to COVID-19. Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap, had been Khabib’s lead trainer for his entire career. There were questions surrounding his fighting future after his father passed.

However, the UFC lightweight champion wanted to keep going to honor his father. At UFC 254, he might have put on the best performance of his career in stopping Justin Gaethje. After the fight was over Khabib laid his gloves in the middle of the cage and retired from the sport.

With some fighters, there are questions and doubts when they first announce retirement. However, I think the majority of the MMA community believes Nurmagomedov will not be back in the UFC. That leaves a vacancy at the top of the lightweight division.

The division is absolutely littered with killers, and I guarantee, none of them are sad to see Nurmagomedov leave the division. So the question now becomes, who will get the first crack at the vacant UFC lightweight championship?

McGregor – Poirier for the vacant UFC title?

Before I get into McGregor – Poirier, I will say that Justin Gaethje deserves to be in the conversation for the first shot. He was the interim champion yesterday and just knocked off Tony Ferguson earlier this year to win that title.

However, I think there’s a clear front-runner for the vacant UFC title. The promotion is planning on having Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) fight in January. Both men have agreed to the fight.

Poirier was the interim champion last year before losing to Nurmagomedov. He bounced back in June to defeat Dan Hooker. McGregor also last lost in a title fight to Nurmagomedov, but he bounced back and knocked out Donald Cerrone back in January.

The UFC wanted McGregor to face Nurmagomedov again if Khabib won yesterday. Now that Khabib has retired, it makes perfect business sense to book McGregor in the next title fight. Also, Poirier has just as much of a case as Gaethje considering he was also the interim champion.

There are several guys in the mix at the top of the division. You have McGregor, Gaethje, Poirier, Michael Chandler, Tony Ferguson, and Dan Hooker. You could pair all those guys up, but I think McGregor – Poirier is likely going to determine the next UFC lightweight champion.