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Morning Report: Firas Zahabi breaks down how a Georges St-Pierre vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight would play out

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In April of this year, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will (hopefully) finally face off. It’s a fight that’s several years in the making and one that Khabib’s camp is calling “the most important fight in UFC history”. Currently, oddsmakers have Khabib as a clear favorite to win the fight, and should that come to pass, the UFC lightweight champion will have no shortage of opponents to choose from. However, there’s one man Khabib and his team have been adamant about wanting to fight next: former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

St-Pierre and Nurmagomedov have been publicly lobbying for a fight with one another since Khabib submitted Conor McGregor at UFC 229. Unfortunately for both men, the UFC was not interested in the fight, and as a result, St-Pierre retired from the sport last year. However since then, St-Pierre and his camp have both suggested on numerous occasions that a big fight could lure him back for one more dalliance, a big fight like the kind one with Khabib would be. And recently, St-Pierre’s head coach Firas Zahabi once again doubled down on that idea, saying that, in his opinion, GSP would come back if the Khabib superfight was offered.

“I think so. I think it’s a possibility,” Zahabi told fightTips recently. “Listen, I don’t want to talk for the guy but I don’t think he’s done. I just he’s so competitive that one day he’s gonna see a guy that everyone thinks is unbeatable and then he’s going to want to come back. Khabib’s one of those guys but it has to be like a 165 fight. Will the UFC do it? That’s the question.”

Whether the UFC will be interested is a big question though. Should Khabib beat Ferguson, Dana White has made it clear he’d like Khabib to rematch Conor McGregor (should McGregor beat Donald Cerrone at UFC 246), but Khabib has been adamant he’s not interested in another McGregor fight. If Nurmagomedov sticks to his guns, that would put the UFC in a difficult position, strip Khabib of the belt or have him fight another contender instead? Justin Gaethje would make the most sense as a challenger for Khabib, but though the hardcore fanbase would love that, Khabib vs. Gaethje would likely do far less business than the other Khabib options. So given that, perhaps the UFC would finally acquiesce to a Khabib-GSP superfight. But if they do, Zahabi believes things would go poorly for the lightweight champion.

“There’s no way I can tell you I’m not biased,” Zahabi said. “I’m biased for sure. But I think Georges just his kicking ability alone, his kicking ability alone will bank him rounds. They’re both good jabbers. I think Khabib is a good jabber but defensively, Georges is far superior. His boxing is longer and better, more precise - if you look at it statistically, his numbers are better - and he has a superior kicking ability.

“Even if Khabib were to take Georges down - let’s give him the best case scenario - I think Georges is getting up, personally. He’s going to get up. Georges’ jiu-jitsu is impeccable. It’s impeccable. It’s not gonna be like holding down anybody in the 155 division today. It’s another level. Georges, even if Khabib gets him down - and I love Khabib, I’m a mega Khabib fan, as a person and as a fighter, I’m a huge fan of his - Georges’ ability to get up is incredible and I’ll be surprised if Khabib gets more than one takedown. It would shock me, it would surprise me to be honest with you. Georges is incredibly hard to take down. Look at his career, how many times did he get taken down? And when he was taken down, how long did he stay down? It was a fraction of a second. He’s always up. He’s a difficult human being to keep down.”

For what it’s worth, when odds were first released back in October, Nurmagomedov opened as a substantial favorite.

Of course, none of this may matter at all. Nurmagomedov still has to get past Tony Ferguson first, the man many believe to be his toughest test. Nurmagomedov and Ferguson are set to face each other as the main event of UFC 249 on April 18.


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Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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