The GOAT Race is Over in MMA for Now
If there is an argument on who the greatest MMA fighter of all-time is that discussion was slammed shut following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s dominating victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on October 24.
With his 28th MMA victory without a defeat, the undisputed lightweight champion left no doubt that there has never been anyone better. My pick for the fight was a knockout by Justin Gaethje thinking he had a puncher’s chance but boy was I wrong. Gaethje did land some big strikes and with any other fighter may have scored a knockout. But Khabib not only showed a fantastic chin and he put on a display of martial arts skills that proved how well rounded a champion he is.
Following the victory, Khabib officially retired a promise he made to his mother and a declaration that he just could not fight on without his late father. Congratulations to the champion for making the right decision as he has nothing left to prove. There is not a fighter out there that can defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov. His finish of Gaethje was so impressive and if you watch the replay you will see how technical the submission was and how Khabib strategically worked himself into position to put Gaethje to sleep. The loser had actually tapped several times but the referee did not see it and thus for Gaethje it was lights out.
Former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is already chirping about how he should be the number one ranked pound-for-pound fighter of all-time but the race is not even close…ANYMORE. The reason Khabib is easily #1 is not just because he becomes the first MMA fighter to retire undefeated but also a champion. But to solidify the argument in favor of Khabib is the fact of how he dominated every fighter he defeated. I believe I even heard that he has lost just one round in his career. But the difference between Khabib and Jon Jones is that the former light heavyweight champion has NOT been dominant in all his fights and has had two bouts many thought he had lost (Alexander Gustafsson-first fight/Dominick Reyes).
Additionally, Jon Jones makes great use of his elbow strikes and has some solid submission skills as well as leg kicks, but his ground game pales in comparison to that of Khabib. So let the argument come to a close because without a shadow of doubt Khabib Nurmagomedov has closed the discussion and without fail can be declared the GOAT and greatest pound-for-pound mixed martial arts fighter ever.
Some other UFC 254 thoughts, I had also picked Jared Cannonier over Robert Whitaker but with the second-most impressive performance of the night, the former middleweight champion spectacularly dominated Cannonier and seems ready for a rematch with current champion Israel Adesanya. Another loser again was Stefan Struve now with five losses in his last six fights and its time to retire.
For those who talk the talk must walk the walk. Several fighters at UFC 254 were boasting about how they would be victorious in their respective bouts ended up losing and losing miserably. They were Walt Harris, Liliya Shakirova, and Ion Cutelaba. Alexander Volkov ended Harris’s night with a kick to the solar plexus, Cutelaba lost his rematch with Magomedsharipov Ankelaev by a vicious knockout, and Shakirova lost in her UFC debut obviously from a lack of experience as Lauren Murphy submitted her with a rear-naked choke.