Given the relative ease with which Khabib Nurmagomedov has dispatched every foe the Ultimate Fighting Championship has placed in front of him in the last five years, it’s natural to ask if there is anyone out there who poses a serious threat.
The UFC’s lightweight division is arguably the most talent-stacked division in the promotion, with the 27-0 Nurmagomedov sitting comfortably atop the mountain. The 30-year-old is set to defend his title at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi this September in a unification fight with interim champion Dustin Poirier. It will be the Nurmagomedov’s first fight since the infamous bout against Conor McGregor back in October and the nine-month suspension he earned for his part in the post-fight melee.
Nurmagomedov’s coach at American Kickboxing Academy, Javier Mendez, was interviewed recently by SportsDaily.ru and gave his assessment of the four contenders that he believes present the biggest challenge to his fighter:
“Talking about four potential rivals for Khabib I can give my assessment from the [least] dangerous to the most dangerous,” Mendez said. “Max Holloway [would] be the easiest for Khabib. Max has good boxing but it lacks the power [for] the lightweight division. Next on the list is Dustin Poirier. He’s got stamina and versatility. Tony Ferguson is my second choice. His elbows are very dangerous. And finally [the] No. 1 contender for me is still Conor. His boxing is special, that’s his chance.”
The lightweight title picture is set to get interesting as former interim champion Ferguson returns to the Octagon after overcoming some recent personal issues to take on Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 on June 8.
Holloway is currently scheduled to go back down to the featherweight division to defend his belt against Frankie Edgar on July 27 at UFC 240, while McGregor has yet to confirm his future plans but is reportedly set for a meeting regarding his future with UFC President Dana White.