UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov made it look relatively easy this past weekend, moving his undefeated record to 29-0 after he submitted Justin Gaethje in the second round of their UFC 254 headliner.
Afterward, Nurmagomedov, 32, shocked everyone when he announced he was retiring. But he also had a request: to be ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound, a distinction that’s belonged to Jon Jones for quite some time in the USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie rankings.
Was Nurmagomedov’s performance against Gaethje enough for him to move from No. 2 into the top spot? Here’s what our rankings chair, “Gorgeous” George Garcia, had to say:
“Khabib looked great in his title unification bout, probably never better against a formidable interim champ who was fighting at his peak, too. That’s just what it takes to overtake Jones at No. 1. Jones’ last title defense against Dominick Reyes in February was arguably a loss. The one before that against Thiago Santos was a split decision win. Khabib has strangled interim champs in his last two fights. And I know that sounds more dramatic in a way. It’s not that Santos and Reyes weren’t deserving of their title shots. I just think Khabib took some heat early on by facing Iaquinta and McGregor, and NOT Tony Ferguson, but Ferguson’s injury (and other karma) prevented that fight from ever happening. But this is the time for Khabib to go out on top.”
You can check out the full list of rankings by division in the dropdowns above. With Bellator 250 and UFC on ESPN+ 39 coming up this week, there’s sure to be some movement in the next edition.