The UFC Lightweight Title: A Visual History

By Ben Duffy Oct 27, 2020
On Saturday in Abu Dhabi, Khabib Nurmagomedov made his final argument as the greatest lightweight of all time, and what a glorious valedictory it was.

After choking out interim champ Justin Gaethje in the second round of their title unification bout at UFC 254, an emotional Nurmagomedov announced his retirement in the cage, a decision he attributed to the untimely death of his father and trainer Abdulmanap, and a subsequent promise made to his mother. The 32-year-old combat sambo wizard leaves behind a 29-0 professional record, a 13-0 mark in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and a record-tying three defenses of the lightweight strap.

In the wake of Nurmagomedov’s retirement, debate has raged, and will likely continue to do so, over his place in the historical pantheon of lightweight champions as well as the mythical pound-for-pound list. Both arguments are of course inherently subjective, but it is worth noting that while he shares the record for UFC lightweight title defenses with B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson, all of Nurmagomedov’s defenses were against former or interim champions, all three opponents—Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and Gaethje—were pound-for-pound talents in their own right, and Nurmagomedov finished all three in dominant fashion.

Ben Duffy/ illustration


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