September 15, 2019

How successful Khabib Nurmagomedov would be in the welterweight division?

A lot of MMA fans are curious how the undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov would do if he was to move up to 170 lbs and competed in the UFC’s welterweight division.

First of all, it’s important to point out that we heard from Khabib multiple times that he has no interest in fighting at 170 lbs and that he wants to stick in the lightweight division. It’s also very unlikely we will see Nurmagomedov fight at welterweight if he only plans to fight a few more times until his retirement from the UFC.

Anyways, hypothetically speaking, how successful would Khabib be if he was to face the best UFC’s welterweights?

With Khabib’s skill set, he will definitely land in the top 5 of the 170 lbs division with potential to beat some of the best fighters out there. A different question is if he would stay undefeated throughout his ran among welterweights.

A size disadvantage would definitely play against him in some of the matchups at 170 lbs. I mean, 15 lbs difference between lightweight and welterweight divisions is a significant number.

Even in the lightweight division, Khabib is not the biggest guy out there. Back in the day, Nurmagomedov used to cut more weight and at some point he was bigger than some of his opponents. But since his health issues related to cutting weight at UFC 209, Khabib definitely changed his weight cut strategy. Right now, during time off (basically on vacation), he walks at under 185 lbs; during the camp training for a fight before starting a weight cut – at 175 lbs. So he is cutting 20 lbs to lightweight’s limit which is an average among UFC fighters.

Khabib vs welterweights

If Nurmagomedov were to fight at 170 lbs, he would have a significant disadvantage against bigger welterweights that cutting weight from 190-200 lbs. Despite this disadvantage, “The Eagle” would still beat most welterweights and who knows, possibly be in contention for the belt.

For example, if Nurmagomedov was to face Kamaru Usman, he wouldn’t be an easy fight for the current welterweight champion. Khabib is a better and more technical grappler than Usman and despite size disadvantage, he would be a serious threat to him on the ground. In the end, I still think Usman would most likely beat Khabib 7 out of 10 times.

Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington would also be tough to beat for Nurmagomedov. Both Woodley and Covington have wrestling background and a solid stand-up. Considering their size and power advantage on Khabib, I don’t think “The Eagle” would be able to take them down and smash on the ground as effectively as he does against lightweights at 155 lbs.

Speaking of some other top welterweights out there, guys like Masvidal and Nate Diaz are not likely to beat Khabib. Both Masvidal and Diaz are not big welterweights and on top of it Nurmagomedov is a horrible matchup for them. The only hope for Masvidal would be a random flying knee which won’t happen against a guy like Khabib.

An interesting matchup would be if Khabib was to fight Ben Askren. Askren is an Olympic level wrestler but he basically has no stand-up at all. Nurmagomedov, unlike Askren, can actually strike so I can see Khabib winning this fight on his feet by simply being more active and possibly KO’ing Ben in one of the exchanges.

What is your opinion on how Khabib would fair in the welterweight division? Do you think he would be a real threat to Kamaru Usman, Tyron Woodley, Jorge Masvidal, and Colby Covington?

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