Top Conor McGregor Lightweight Challenger Khabib Nurmagomedov says he is the real deal, wants title shot (w/Keller’s Analysis)

By Wade Keller, MMATorch editor

Khabib Nurmagomedov (photo credit Reinhold Matay © USA Today Sports)

Khabib Nurmagomedov, after an impressive win over Michael Johnson on the UFC 205 undercard, says he’s grown tired of waiting for respect in the Lightweight Division. He wants new Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor next.

“I don’t care about Conor or Eddie,” he said on FS1’s UFC 205 Post-Fight Show. “I know I am the real deal. I tell Dana, you have to talk to me for real. No more trash talking. You know I deserve this, you have to send me a real contract. Eight-and-a-half years undefeated, why not? … I think I am the real deal of the Lightweight Division.”

He is 8-0 in UFC since arriving in 2012, and 24-0 overall.

That said, Tony Ferguson is ranked ahead of him and he looked great last weekend in defeating the former champion, Rafael dos Anjos. He’s 12-1 in the same span of time Nurmagomedov is 8-0. Working against him is that his only loss in UFC back in 2012 was against the man Nurmagomedov just defeated at UFC 205. It shouldn’t matter much, but if there’s need for a tie-breaker, that could be it.

Brian Stann said on FS1 Saturday night that either is a huge challenge to McGregor. He pointed out both Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have defeated former champ Dos Anjos. “There are no more easy or good stylistic fights left for Conor McGregor,” said Stann.

Keller’s Analysis: Nurmagomedov is not going to create fireworks in press conferences like Nate Diaz did, but UFC shouldn’t use that against him. In fact, I’m not sure at this point it matters much whether McGregor’s next opponent can trash talk with him. McGregor is established as 100 percent legit in the Octagon with his dominant win over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, if there was any doubt left. I believe the public will buy in massive numbers any McGregor fight at this point, but especially if it’s sold as being against McGregor’s toughest opponent yet, and whether it’s Ferguson or Nurmagomedov, I believe a case can be made it will be his toughest opponent yet. Poor Jose Aldo is also hoping for a Featherweight Title rematch, although maybe he’s less eager after watching McGregor’s performance against Alvarez. He can also feel a little less bad about how he lost given how dominant McGregor was against another champion in a higher weight division. 

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