In the wake of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s coronation at UFC 223, there are a few intriguing options for the Dagestani fighter’s first lightweight title defense.
Tony Ferguson and his 10 fight-winning streak are still around, although UFC President Dana White appears reticent to book the seemingly cursed bout with Nurmagomedov for a fifth time. “El Cucuy” was not impressed with the new champ’s performance against Al Iaquinta on Saturday night, which he let the world know via Twitter.
Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) April 8, 2018
That said, it sounds as though Nurmagomedov would like to see Ferguson win another fight before he gets a shot at lightweight gold.
“I keep wanting this fight. You guys remember, when I pull out last time after UFC 209, UFC tells me, ‘You want to deserve title shot, you have to fight some top guy. When you have injury, this is your fault,’” Nurmagomedov said at the UFC 223 post-fight press conference. “I have a lot of injuries. I have ACL, MCL, back surgery, hand surgery, broke ribs. I come back, come back, I never give up. Now he’s injured. This is not my fault. This is not Dana’s fault. This is his fault.
“Please, come back and fight with somebody and deserve this. Tony Ferguson is tough guy. I don’t want to talk trash or bad about him. I know he always talks trash. He just pulled out and he keeps talking [on Twitter]. Shut up, he pulled out. He’s a great fighter, but a little bit stupid. I don’t understand this guy.”
Meanwhile, there is plenty of unfinished business with Conor McGregor, who attacked a bus carrying Nurmagomedov and numerous other UFC fighters at the Barclays Center on Thursday. McGregor, who was officially stripped of the lightweight belt he won in November 2016, must deal with legal issues from that bus incident before considering any type of Octagon return. Still, Nurmagomedov acknowledged that he and the Irishman ”must finish this beef” at some point.
But of all the possible contenders, Nurmagomedov’s dream fight would be Georges St. Pierre. That’s who he called out in the immediate aftermath of UFC 223, and that’s who he grew up admiring as “Rush” ruled the welterweight division. St. Pierre, who returned from a four-year hiatus to capture middleweight gold at UFC 217 before vacating the belt, doesn’t currently have interest in such a fight.
That response isn’t surprising to Nurmagomedov, who is skeptical that St. Pierre ever competes again in the Octagon.
“If you ask me if he’s going to come back, I’m going to say no,” Nurmagomedov said. “He’s  years old and the greatest athlete in UFC history. Why does he need to come back, for what?”
If it were entirely up to him, however, Nurmagomedov would choose a fight with St. Pierre over a fight with McGregor.
“I hear he wants to come to fight at UFC 155 and take this belt, make history and become three-division champion,” Nurmagomedov said. “If I beat Conor or if I beat Georges St. Pierre, which one is better for my legacy? Maybe for money it’s Conor, but for legacy it’s Georges St. Pierre.”