Khabib Nurmagomedov, the last man to defeat current UFC Lightweight Champ Rafael dos Anjos, returned to the cage earlier this month for the first time since that fight, and defeated a late replacement opponent in Darrell Horcher.
The win took him a little bit longer than some may have expected, and dos Anjos himself didn’t come away thinking much of Nurmagomedov’s performance.
“I was not even a little impressed,” dos Anjos said of the fight in an interview with MMAFighting.com. “He fought a guy who has a full-time job and took the fight on a week’s notice. After the first minute, with all due respect, [Horcher] looked pink, completely out of shape, and [Khabib] still needed almost two rounds to finish the fight.
“Congratulations to the opponent that accepted the fight, but there’s no way… When I lost to Khabib, I was ranked No. 5 or 6 and many things have changed since,” he continued. “He beat a guy who has a full-time job, and I beat Jason High, Ben Henderson, Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone.
“… I offered him to fight me in July when his fight got cancelled, but he couldn’t do it for religious reasons, I guess, but the opportunity was offered and he didn’t say yes. Now he beats a guy who has a full-time job and thinks he deserves a title shot? In my opinion, he does not. He has to work more. He can’t live the rest of his life saying ‘oh, I beat Rafael, I’m the champion without the belt.’ He has to work. Forget about that. I’ve done a lot of things and evolved more since that fight.”
Penick’s Analysis: Yes, dos Anjos has done a ton more since losing that fight, and yes, Nurmagomedov’s return wasn’t the most impressive win he’s had. With that said, Nurmagomedov’s absolutely the No. 1 contender, and only Tony Ferguson with a summer win over another top contender would be worthy of usurping him for that spot. Dos Anjos isn’t going to really have a say in it when the UFC decides to book that next Lightweight Title fight after July.
[Photo (c) Joe Camporeale via USA Today Sports]
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