January 19, 2021

Who was the best? Khabib or McGregor?

As the previous lightweight champion, McGregor is set to return from his retirement this month and comes with a boast: according to McGregor, he is still the champ. Despite what was widely regarded as a crushing defeat at the hands of Khabib, somewhat delusionally McGregor maintains the belief that the title remains his because of what occurred after the fight (which incidentally, McGregor did in fact lose!).

Prior to the fight, during the fight, and pretty much ever since the fight, these two men have demonstrated a severe hatred for each other. What happened that night, and can we really tell who was the best?

What the stats say

Khabib entered UFC back in 2012 and started as he meant to continue: a victory over Shalorus in his first-ever UFC fight. In total, Khabib has now fought 12 times: winning every single time. 8 victories came from unanimous judges’ decisions, 4 from submissions, and 2 from knockouts. 

At the age of 32, McGregor has now fought 26 times in the UFC. According to Betway, his record stands at 22 wins and 4 losses. Impressively, 19 of those wins came from knockouts. 

McGregor vs Poirier 2 - the road to rematch

So what can the stats tell us? Khabib is undefeated which gives him the edge, but McGregor’s record is more than just slightly impressive.

That fight!

It was UFC 229 in October 2018 that saw McGregor go head-to-head with Khabib. Although McGregor may have a different reality, this fight was widely regarded as a crushing defeat for McGregor who left that night without his title.

McGregor refuses to accept that he was dominated by Khabib, claiming that he fought the best of him that night and that Conor himself wasn’t in the best shape at the time.

Nurmagomedov overwhelmed McGregor with his grappling and ended up submitting him on the ground via neck crank submission in the 4th round.

McGregor’s dispute

So, given Khabib’s convincing victory, during a fight that he basically dominated from start to finish, what makes McGregor believe that he still holds the title? This is linked to the brawl that took place at the conclusion of the event. With clashes between cornerman in the McGregor and Khabib camps, Khabib exited the cage. 

It is Khabib missing out on the post-fight ceremony that has given rise to McGregor’s claims: with Khabib never crowned, McGregor remains the champion. Utter nonsense of course: McGregor was beaten, and Khabib did take the title.

A rematch between Khabib and McGregor is a possibility?

When trying to decide who was the best, we only have one fight to go on. Yes, the stats give us an overview of how well each fighter has performed in the past, but what would serve us well is a rematch between the rivals.

With McGregor returning from retirement this month in a much-anticipated fight against Poirier, there are rumors that the 2 greats could come face-to-face once again. Khabib certainly doesn’t dismiss the possibility, but is insistent that McGregor proves his worth first by winning 10 fights in a row! It’s a tall order so only time will tell if McGregor and Khabib will enter the cage together to fight again.

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