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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov gives his blessing to new lightweight champion Charles Oliveira: ‘I think he deserves the belt’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Khabib Nurmagomedov is one of the greatest fighters of all-time and widely considered to be the best lightweight ever. After a perfect 29-0 professional career, Khabib announced his retirement from MMA in the cage following his title defense over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, citing the passing of his father and a promise made to his mother as reasons for his exit. However, despite Nurmagomedov’s insistence that he was done, the UFC spent several months trying to coax “The Eagle of Dagestan” back for one final fight. Eventually, UFC President Dana White gave up on this fruitless effort and last month, Charles Oliveira won the vacant lightweight title with a second-round KO of Michael Chandler at UFC 262. Now, the man who walked away from the belt in the first place has given the new champion his blessing.

“He deserves to be a lightweight champion,” Khabib told reporters following an event held by Khabib’s own Eagle FC promotion (video and translation courtesy of RT Sport). “What does he have, eight wins in a row? And seven of those eight were finishes. Only the Ferguson fight went to decision. I think he deserves the belt, so many finishes and UFC records. It’d be sad if Chandler won, if he became champion after two UFC fights. It wouldn’t be right. Oliveira improved a lot and he deserves to be champion. I’m really happy for him because when anyone reaches success you have to respect that. I think he deserves to be champion.”

Oliveira is actually on a nine-fight win streak with eight of those coming by way of stoppage, but that’s really splitting hairs. The fact is, the new champion has been on an incredible run the last few years and Oliveira’s ascension to the UFC title after 28 fights (a record) has been one of the feel good stories of 2021. However, Khabib doesn’t believe this Cinderella story is meant to last.

“I don’t think he’ll be champion when Islam (Makhachev) rises to that level,” Khabib said when asked if his protege could beat Oliveira. “It’s important that Oliveira doesn’t misinterpret my words. I respect him. I just think when Islam goes up the rankings after a year there will be another champion. I think it will be Dustin Poirier.”

Khabib has a long history of mutual respect with Poirier, frequently calling him the best fighter he ever faced and the most deserving champion after himself, and Khabib is not alone in that belief. Most fans felt Poirier deserved the first crack at the lightweight title following Khabib’s retirement, however, Poirier opted for a lucrative trilogy bout with Conor McGregor instead. That does create an opportunity for Khabib to return and reclaim his lightweight title if the crowning of a new champion somehow suddenly ignited the fire back in Khabib to return to competition, but the former lightweight champion once again reaffirmed he has no interest in coming back for any reason.

“I think that those questions will never end,” Khabib said. “I think I’ll be asked 10 years from now ‘Oh, there are fighters that fought at 42 in the UFC, will you return?’ I think these questions will always be relevant but I wouldn’t wait for my comeback. You’ll be waiting a long time.”


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The Man and the MITH. Discussing Jake Paul-Tyron Woodley and more.

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Memorial Day commemoration.




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Dustin Jacoby (14-5-1) vs. Askar Mozharov (23-7); UFC Fight Night, Aug. 28.

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Lucas Almeida (12-0) vs. Daniel Zellhuber (11-0); Contender Series, Sep. 28.

Hugo Cunha (6-0) vs. Martin Buday (7-1); Contender Series, Oct. 12.

Jansey Silva (7-1) vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (12-0); Contender Series, Oct. 26.


Hope all the American readers had a good Memorial Day! And for everyone, welcome back to The Ultimate Fighter. I suspect it will be just as entrancing as it was before it went on hiatus.

Anyway, thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



Well, who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Jake Paul
    (303 votes)
  • 63%
    Tyron Woodley
    (527 votes)
830 votes total Vote Now

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