Five opponents for Khabib to face next if he beats Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 with champ eyeing retirement after 30 bouts

Five opponents for Khabib to face next if he beats Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 with champ eyeing retirement after 30 bouts

January 31, 2022

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV is within touching distance of fulfilling his father's dream of retiring after 30 unbeaten fights.

Lightweight king Khabib headlines UFC 254 on Fight Island tomorrow night, facing interim champion Justin Gaethje.

The unification bout puts Nurmagomedov, 32, one step closer to retirement.

His dad Abdulmanap – who tragically passed away in July aged 57 due to coronavirus – wanted his son to hang up his gloves one bout after Gaethje.

With the Russian teasing one final mega-fight before walking away, SunSport takes a look at who could be next for Nurmagomedov.

Georges St-Pirre

Nurmagomedov has gone on record and revealed he and Abdulmanap wanted to face welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre in their 30th fight.

GSP – who retired in 2019 and last fought in 2017 – is open to the idea, but failed talks in the past leave him doubting it can be pulled off.

Another factor is the weight, as St-Pierre last fought at middleweight and is unlikely to get down to lightweight, while Dana White ruled out a catchweight.

But still Khabib is pushing to bring the 39-year-old out of retirement before Ramadan begins on April 12.

He said: “I want that fight.

“If I beat Justin Gaethje, then fight St-Pierre in April before Ramadan, that would be ideal.”

Conor McGregor

After beating McGregor in 2018 – which sold a record 2.4million UFC pay-per-views – a post-fight brawl between the two camps stole the headlines.

It has fuelled demand for a rematch, which Khabib is willing to offer his arch rival.

But McGregor, 32, who is set to face Dustin Poirier, 31, on his UFC return, has been told he must beat the contender at lightweight, not welterweight.

Khabib told the Mike Swick podcast: "If he beats him (Poirier) in 155, it makes sense.

"But if they fight in 170, how can you fight in 170 and then next fight be in 155."

White added, in an interview with BT Sport: "Neither one of those two are ranked at 170 pounds and it doesn't do anything in the '55 division if either one of them win 'cos they're fighting at 170."

Tony Ferguson

Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have a cursed history, as FIVE fights between the two have been cancelled in the past.

They were due to fight this year, but travel restrictions ruled Khabib out, and Gaethje, 31, stepped in on late notice in May to beat Ferguson at UFC 249.

It was a stoppage Nurmagomedov doubts his rival will ever recover from.

But Ferguson, 36, is not giving up hope of fighting Khabib before the champion retires, at the sixth time of asking.

He told ESPN: "I see fear in his voice if he thinks he has to talk bad about people. "He can't put that s*** in my head.

"I will fight Khabib at one point or another. He will see me before he retires. We'll make that a point."

Michael Chandler

The UFC signed Chandler after his Bellator contract expired, where he had spent nine years and enjoyed three title reigns.

He is currently on Fight Island to provide backup for the main-event.

The 34-year-old is adamant he will have the belt within a year, despite the frustration of sitting on the sidelines and not fighting this weekend.

Chandler said: “This was not my No1 choice.

"But you make the best decision you can with the opportunities you have in front of you and the information that you have.

“Here we are, and I think I’m going to be UFC lightweight champion in the next 12 months.”

Floyd Mayweather

Mayweather, 43, retired as a pro boxer in 2017 after beating Nurmagomedov's UFC rival McGregor.

But last November he announced plans to fight again, working with Dana White on a comeback, and later confirmed he would face Khabib.

Nurmagomedov revealed he is hounded by calls every month from the Middle East offering him £100m to fight the boxing legend.

And he appears open to the challenge, but only after his UFC contract expires or if they grant him permission to do so.

Khabib told Yahoo! Sports: "Mayweather is a new challenge. Mayweather is one of the greatest of all time, 50-0.

"But right now, I don't want to be like snake, this is not my style. Please, if I finish my contract, OK we are going to talk.

"Or, if you have like question, please talk with the UFC, because I have contract with the UFC."

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