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Fighters with GOAT credentials over Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov is a legend of the sport but is he the greatest fighter of all time?

Following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement last year, there was a massive debate regarding whether the undefeated Russian fighter is the greatest of all time. Over the years, we have seen some elite athletes gracing the octagon and entertaining fans with their incredible performances.

Some fighters went on to become dominant champions in the UFC and held the title for years before finally retiring or suffering a dip in form. These athletes are widely regarded by fans, critics, and analysts as some of the greatest fighters of all time.

Khabib Nurmagomedov put on dominant performances inside the octagon against some of the most dangerous fighters in a heavily stacked lightweight division. Because of this, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history, but is he the greatest fighter of all time?

A solid argument here in favor of Khabib Nurmagomedov could be the fact that he has never lost a fight in his entire career. Having run through a murderers’ row in the UFC, it’s difficult to imagine how good he must be to have not only dominated his opponents but to keep walking them down round after round.

Is Khabib Nurmagomedov the greatest fighter of all time?

Many compare Nurmagomedov to Floyd Mayweather because of their undefeated records. To be honest, it’s a fair comparison given how great both their legacies are. Now that he is retired and we look back at his career, has Khabib done it all in the sport before calling time on his career? Should he be called the greatest fighter of all time? Maybe. Maybe not.

When we call someone a dominant champion, it usually means that they have held the title for a long time and successfully defended it against top-contenders time after time. Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje are some of the best fighters on the planet, and Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully dispatched them with ease.

However, Khabib Nurmagomedov has just three title defenses to his name. There have been champions in the past who have gone on to defend the title twice or even thrice as many times as Nurmagomedov.

Now, this isn’t a diss on Khabib Nurmagomedov for choosing to retire while on top. However, for the sake of the GOAT argument, you need to look at how long a fighter has defended the title against top contenders. Khabib Nurmagomedov himself has never claimed to be the greatest fighter of all time but a lot of fans and analysts have.

In this article, we will look at some legendary UFC fighters who have stronger GOAT credentials than Khabib Nurmagomedov.

#3. Anderson Silva

Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is widely considered one of the finest fighters to have ever graced the octagon. During his reign as middleweight champion, ‘The Spider’ defended his title on 10 separate occasions before finally succumbing to Chris Weidman at UFC 162.

He’s defended the title against some of the biggest names in the fight game, including the likes of Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, Dan Henderson and Forrest Griffin. He was also on a record 16 fight win streak in the UFC, which amounts to two more fights than the total number of scraps Nurmagomedov has in the promotion.

Anderson Silva also holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history at 2,457 days. If we make an argument for GOAT status while keeping aside the recency bias, the Brazilian MMA legend must be ranked above Khabib Nurmagomedov.

#2. Georges St-Pierre

George St-Pierre is one of the most celebrated athletes in UFC history. GSP holds the record for the second-longest combined title streak in UFC history. The Canadian athlete also defended the welterweight title nine consecutive times during his second reign as champion.

St-Pierre also climbed up a weight class and defeated Michael Bisping to become UFC middleweight champion at UFC 217. Like Khabib Nurmagomedov, GSP also retired from the sport as champion. While he did lose a couple of fights in his career, St-Pierre avenged both of his losses like a true champion.

Khabib Nurmagomedov himself considers GSP one of the greatest fighters of all time and, during his fighting days, ‘The Eagle’ wanted to test himself against ‘Rush’.

#1. Jon Jones

Before Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement last year, ‘Bones’ was considered by many to the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. His reign as UFC light heavyweight champion was nothing short of extraordinary. The former two-time light heavyweight champion held the title for a combined total of almost six years (from March 2011 to April 2015 and from December 2018 to August 2020).

Technically, Jones has a solitary loss on his record but that was for getting disqualified for illegal strikes in a fight he was clearly winning. Jones holds multiple records in the light heavyweight division, including most title defenses, most wins, longest win streak and most submission victories.

Jones fought and beat every top contender in the light heavyweight division during his championship reign and is considered by many to be the greatest pound-for-pound athlete of all time. He is currently the number one ranked pound-for-pound active fighter in the UFC.

Jones is now tipped for a move to the heavyweight division to potentially challenge for the title at some stage. If he manages to grasp that second belt, Jon Jones will definitely lay claim to the title of UFC GOAT.

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Edited by Jack Cunningham

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