Every once in a while, a sport witnesses an athlete that surpasses the bar for greatness and takes it to a whole new level.
In the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), we’ve seen a lot of great champions dominate with specific skillsets through the years.
Some of their most memorable fighters include:
- MMA godfather Royce Gracie and his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Chuck Liddell and his hands of stone
- Georges St-Pierre and his well-rounded skill set
- The supernatural striking of Anderson Silva
- The GOAT Jon Jones, who uses his opponent’s greatest strengths against them
- Demetrious Johnson’s elite athleticism and all-around game
- Daniel Cormier’s wrestling and strong competitive drive
- Stipe Miocic and his patience, smart striking, and wrestling acumen
All of these men have shown or are showing greatness and consistency during their times in the UFC. They have also all been champions.
But in this new era in the UFC, one man took that level of greatness and is taking to a whole new level as he is showcasing his ability to win but doing it in a fashion that no one has seen for such a prolonged amount of time.
Khabib Nurmagomedov hasn’t lost a single fight in his professional MMA career. He has been nothing short of dominant.
In his 28 wins, eight came via knockouts, 10 came via submission and 10 came via decisions.
In his 12 fights in the UFC, he only lost one round, that was in the third round of his fight against Conor McGregor. A lot of fans were arguing that he did not lost that round.
The Russian Eagle has been the most dominant fighter in this current era of the UFC. He’s plowed through world class opponents like McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Edson Barboza, Michael Johnson, and Rafael Dos Anjos to name a few.
Despite the fact that the 32-year-old king of the Lightweight division is a once in a generation fighter, another man is out there that may have the tools to beat him.
Justin Gaethje has been dominant in his own way, beating people up with his insane leg kicks and incredible boxing power.
In his 24 fights, he has lost two and won 22. And out of those 22 wins, 19 fighters ended up in the canvas out cold.
In the UFC, the Highlight has knocked out the likes of Johnson, Barboza, Donald Cerrone and most recently Tony Ferguson.
Both men have the tools to beat one another, Nurmagomedov with his amazing wrestling and grappling prowess that would allow him to dominate a wrestler-turned-striker like Gaethje who is more comfortable fighting while on feet.
Gaethje has that insane power in his fists and those great leg kicks that could derail the game plan of Khabib. According to experts, Gaethje will need to do utilize some dirty boxing in order to keep Nurmagomedov in the position that he wants.
If you don’t believe me, well just listen to a legend.
Both men have a lot on the line in this fight.
Another win for Nurmagomedov will push him to a staggering 29-0 record. He’s also fighting for the first time without his Father and trainer, who passed away earlier this year due to Covid-19.
A win puts away the doubts that Khabib is still Khabib despite missing action for the last 13 months.
It’s hard to doubt the champ, especially since no one’s figured him out yet, and he’s made relatively light work of everyone that’s come across him so far. We’ll have to see if Gaethje’s strong striking and his background as a former wrestler will give him enough of an edge.
Undefeated fighters are a rare breed in mixed martial arts, and it’s even rarer for a champion to be undefeated for so long. However, if Gaethje somehow wins and is the first to add a loss to Khabib’s record, he would instantly become recognized as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history.
Gaethje is already known as a knockout artist with an impressive list of victims, but a win would put him in the category with legend-killers like Chris Weidman, who ended Anderson Silva’s reign as king of the middleweight division. Granted, Weidman’s own title reign didn’t last that long afterwards, but he will forever be remembered for dethroning Silva.
All that’s left now is for them to finally square off in the octagon.