Khabib Nurmagomedov: Pound-For-Pound UFC GOAT?

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images


For the 29th time in his professional career, Khabib Nurmagomedov entered the octagon and for the 29th time, he left with a win.

Khabib defeated Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 1 minute and 34 seconds in the second round via triangle choke. He retained his Lightweight championship for the third consecutive time against an opponent many thought would be his hardest test. That was not the case and Khabib further cemented his legacy.

Making the victory even more memorable was the fact that the champ broke his foot three weeks ago and fought with a broken bone in his foot plus two broken toes, according to UFC President Dana White.

After the fight, Khabib announced his retirement. He made a promise to his mother this would be his last fight after she did not want him to fight without his dad, who passed away in July due to complications from COVID-19.

“I promised her this was gonna be my last fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “If I give my word, I have to follow this.”

At the end of his interview, Nurmagomedov requested that the UFC ranked him the pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter in the world.

The UFC obliged.

One person took exception to this claim and that man was former Light Heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones.

Jones took to Twitter to praise and congratulate Khabib, while also staking his claim as the best to ever do it.


“Being the best is earned not given,” Jones said in another Tweet.

Jones does not think it is right to watch his hard work move down the rankings.

He has a point.

Too many times in today’s day and age, we have a recency bias and are quick to throw out the terms like legend or GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) especially when it comes to athletes. Nurmagomedov has had one of the best careers for any fighter or athlete ever, giving him a legend status, but is he the overall best to ever do it?

If you ask Jon Jones, the answer is no as he will say that he is the absolute best to ever step foot inside the octagon.

Résumé vs Dominance

The more impressive résumé belongs to Jones. The dominance factor favors the side of Nurmagomedov.

Let’s break this down a bit.

Khabib has had four UFC title fights in his great career. He won the Lightweight championship at UFC 223 defeating Al Iaquinta via unanimous decision. He then went on to defeat Connor McGregor (Neck Crank – RD 4 – UFC 229), Dustin Poirier (Rear Naked Choke – RD 3 – UFC 242), and then Gaethje (Triangle Choke – RD 2 – UFC 254).

He is 13-0 in the UFC.

Jones has a record of 26-1-0 (1 No Contest) in his illustrious career. He defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 via KO/TKO (knees) in the third round to capture the Light Heavyweight title, becoming the youngest champion in UFC history.

He was stripped of the title in April of 2015 after he was involved in a hit and run incident where he crashed into a pregnant woman and fled on foot. He would be reinstated nearly six-months later.

Jones was suspended for one year by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for potential doping violations in July of 2016 ahead of a rematch with arch-rival Daniel Cormier. The rematch finally occurred at UFC 214 in July of 2017. Jones won the fight via TKO after a lethal head kick and then followed up with a bevy of punches, re-capturing the title he never lost.

Nearly a month later, Jones was flagged yet again for a potential doping violation by USADA. After USADA announced that both Jones “A” and “B” samples came back tested positive for Turinaol, an anabolic steroid. The California State Athletic Commission overturned the fight result to a no-contest.

He then returned at UFC 232 in December of 2018 after a 15-month suspension. He had a rematch for the vacant Light Heavyweight title against Alexander Gustafsson, where Jones would win via TKO in the third round.

Jones went on to successfully defend the title against Anthony Smith (Unanimous Decision – UFC 235), Thiago Santos (Split Decision – UFC 239), and then won via a controversial Unanimous Decision against Dominick Reyes, where a lot of media members scored the fight in favor of the challenger.

He then relinquished the belt on August 15, 2020, and announced he was moving up to the heavyweight division.

Khabib no doubt showed a dominating factor. He forced opposing fighters to fight at his pace and then he would take them down and finish them on the ground. Many fans point to this factor as to why he is the ultimate best ever.

However, Nurmagomedov did only have four title fights, with three successful defenses. He is arguably the most dominant fighter of all time and possibly the best to ever do it at 155 pounds. He is 1000 percent in the conversation, but ultimately I believe it is Jones who is the pound-for-pound GOAT.

Take away any of the aforementioned issues Jones has run into and just look at the fights, especially the title fights. The numbers don’t lie.

Over the course of his career, Jones has been in 15 title fights, which is more than 50% of his fight totals. UFC announcer Jon Anik believes Jones’ résumé is difficult for anyone to compete with.

At the end of the day, both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon “Bones” Jones are two of the absolute best to step inside the octagon. Both have had legendary careers that will transcend the record books for years to come. We will likely never see performances quite like these two individuals have put on in their respective careers and that’s perfectly fine. There will be other fighters who have and will continue to show dominance and an impressive résumé, but not quite like these two.

Is Khabib Nurmagomedov the pound-for-pound UFC GOAT? While it is certainly up for debate, give me Jon Jones as the overall greatest to ever do it.

Hit me up on Twitter @KingEdward15 and let me know who you think is the GOAT of the UFC.

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I am a 2013 graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. I aspire to be great. I love sports and professional wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @KIngEdward15 and engage in sports talk with me.

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