Who Will Khabib Nurmagomedov Fight After Conor McGregor?
On 6 October, Khabib Nurmagomedov will participate in the biggest fight of his undefeated career, as he’s set to put his belt on the line against former two-division champion Conor McGregor. Part of the reason why so many fans are excited about this contest is that both fighters have pretty much same chances to win; McGregor has a major boxing advantage and he is one of the best strikers in the UFC. Khabib is the superior wrestler and he can dominate anyone on the ground. Unlike other marquee fights, each athlete has a clear case for victory.
Similarly, because McGregor and Nurmagomedov are in the prime of their careers, it’s probable that they won’t wait long after this historic contest (and record-breaking payday) to step back inside the Octagon or the boxing ring.
McGregor’s next career move is unpredictable: win or lose against Nurmagomedov, he could try to box again, move up to welterweight, or simply expand his whiskey business but Khabib’s future is a bit more predictable. Just because his future is predictable, though, doesn’t mean that it’s uninteresting.
Let’s take a look for some potential opponents for Khabib Nurmagomedov after he fights Conor McGregor on October 6!
If Khabib Wins
The following matches can happen regardless, but they’re much more likely to occur if Khabib bests Conor McGregor at UFC 229.
- Khabib vs McGregor 2
McGregor is far and away the biggest star the UFC has ever seen. His fantastic skills, brash personality, and excellent marketing abilities have made him a fan favorite. But a key component of McGregor’s allure, similarly to the aura that surrounded Ronda Rousey when she was champion, is his dominance. If the Irishman were to lose in MMA and leave said loss unavenged, he simply wouldn’t sell as well. Thus, if he comes up short against Khabib Nurmagomedov, fans should expect to see a rematch booked in the near future, just as was the case when McGregor lost to Nate Diaz.
In addition to giving Conor a chance to come out on top (frankly, that’s what Dana White prefers), Khabib vs McGregor rematch would sell probably even better than their first fight.
- Georges St. Pierre
Credit: @Georges St-Pierre
The most dominant welterweight champion in UFC history, Georges St. Pierre is regarded by many fans and pundits as the best mixed martial artist of all time. GSP’s legacy was further cemented last November when he submitted middleweight champion Michael Bisping and added another division’s belt to his collection.
Even though he was successful at middleweight, GSP is not expected to continue to compete in the weight class. Citing health concerns (his ulcerative colitis flared when his diet grew in preparation for the Bisping match), GSP vacated the belt and left the division. He hasn’t ruled out a return, though, and interestingly, the former 170-pounder has stated that he could easily weigh-in at 155 lbs. He also said that he’d be open to fighting for the belt at lightweight.
Khabib would jump at the opportunity, given GSP’s legacy and proven pay-per-view sales track record. Furthermore, William Morris, the UFC’s owner, seems to have an affinity for dramatic super fights, and Nurmagomedov vs St. Pierre certainly fits the bill.
- Tyron Woodley
Khabib’s weight-cut troubles have been well documented. Although he hasn’t lost a round in the UFC, “The Eagle” has had some difficulty shedding the weight required to battle at lightweight. With this and Nurmagomedov’s ample success considered, along with the windfall associated with a potential super fight at welterweight, a match between him and UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley is a distinct possibility.
To be sure, the incentive of such a fight for the UFC would be a lucrative legacy-fight; an intelligent businessman, Woodley has long sought a super fight, like when he rallied for a contest against Georges St. Pierre; and Nurmagomedov is a shrewd negotiator and businessman in his own right, and he probably wouldn’t turn down what could potentially be a bigger payday than that of his bout versus Conor McGregor.
If Khabib Loses to McGregor
If Khabib doesn’t get his hand raised against McGregor, he could conceivably be paired with the following athletes.
- Tony Ferguson
Come on, these two gangsters have to fight each other at some point!
Tony Ferguson is a lightweight title contender who has been set to fight Nurmagomedov multiple times, only to see the matches fall through.
At first, Nurmagomedov vs Ferguson was set for the TUF 22 Finale in 2015, but Khabib withdrew due to injury. The UFC’s 16 October 2016 Fox event originally included a Nurmagomedov-Ferguson match-up, but Tony withdrew due to a lung issue. A botched weight cut forced Khabib from a lightweight title fight with Ferguson at UFC 209, and most recently, Ferguson withdrew from a UFC 223 match against Nurmagomedov due to a ligament tear.
Perhaps the fifth time will be the charm! Both Khabib and Tony are world-class competitors, and a bout between them is sure to entertain. Additionally, Ferguson will compete against former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis in the co-main event of UFC 229, so the stage is set for a Ferguson-Khabib showdown if Ferguson wins and Khabib loses (as McGregor probably won’t want to fight the next man in line at lightweight, as opposed to exploring a bigger money-fight or his boxing options).
- Justin Gaethje
Former World Series of Fighting Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje has made quite an impression in the UFC. The NCAA Division 1 wrestler tries to knock his opponents out from the first bell until the last, and he’s become a must-watch athlete as a result. Gaethje most recently stopped high-level contender James Vick with strikes in the first round, and if he wants a chance to hop through the rankings, Khabib is his best bet. Khabib vs Gaethje could be an interesting fight for the UFC, fans, and both athletes.
Although the options listed in this piece are viable, it’ll be difficult to say for certain who Nurmagomedov will fight next until we know the result of the McGregor bout. Be sure to catch that contest, along with four solid supporting fights, at UFC 229. The main card will air on pay-per-view at 10 pm in the east and 7 in the west, while the televised prelims will begin on Fox Sports 1 at 8 pm in the east and 5 pm in the west. The Fight Pass prelims will broadcast sometime earlier in the afternoon.
Thanks for reading, and here’s to an entertaining night on October 6! The wait is over!