Before he finally climbed back into the UFC’s Octagon after two years away because of injuries, Khabib Nurmagomedov made a case that he should be getting a shot at the lightweight title. After putting away late replacement Darrell Horcher in one of the most alluring bouts of UFC on Fox 19, it’s hard to argue with the Dagestani.
“I beat your current lightweight champion,” Nurmagomedov told the media in the days before his comeback. “I hope these guys give me a title shot. I have been undefeated all my life. Eddie Alvarez lose a lot of times, ‘Cowboy’ [Donald Cerrone] lose, Tony Ferguson lose... UFC needs somebody different, somebody new, on a new level, new generation. I hope the UFC gives me a title shot after this, because a lot of people agree with me. A lot of fans agree with me.”
With Ferguson injured and removed from the card, Nurmagomedov knew he had to fight, not only to stay sharp, but to keep his sanity. After a few minutes of feeling out his foe, it looked as though “The Eagle” never left. He was up to his old tricks, systematically destroying Horcher and eventually stopping him in the second round.
But Nurmagomedov wasn’t finished. He has a lot of work on which to catch up, and the No. 1 fighter in his sniper scope is current lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, the last man he faced. In that fight, on the UFC on Fox 11 card, Nurmagomedov dominated dos Anjos and won a decision, but in his absence, the Brazilian went on to capture the title.
“Now I’m free,” Nurmagomedov exclaimed after dispatching Horcher. “You guys see how dangerous the Eagle is when he’s hungry.”
Right now, Nurmagomedov is starving, eager to grab what he believes is rightfully his.
“Two years ago, in Florida,” he exclaimed to dos Anjos, “I beat you by unanimous decision. Let’s finish our business. I see you in September, October, or maybe November, in New York.”
Nurmagomedov told the assembled media at the post-fight press conference that he won’t fight during Ramadan, which begins June 6 and ends July 5. His said he’ll take some time off and then he’ll be ready to resume his termination of all who stand in his way come the fall.
“After two years of waiting, six months is nothing for me. I won’t fight during Ramadan; this is very important for me. After 100 days you see my performance.
“I will be ready in September or October” he continued. “I want to fight in New York. There are many people over there who love me and want to see me fight. I have a lot of fans over there.”