Khabib Nurmagomedov: ‘I smashed everybody, I deserve my title shot’
While Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Eddie Alvarez are preparing to throw down on Saturday night with both believing that a win could earn them a title shot, the No. 2 ranked fighter in the division has a strong opinion otherwise.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is currently recovering from an injured knee, but he’s definitely paying attention to all the things the other contenders around him have been saying recently. At one time, Nurmagomedov was matched up with Cerrone before the knee injury took him out of the fight, but upon hearing that the former WEC fighter might be vying for a shot at the belt on Saturday night he was immediately enraged.
Nurmagomedov is undefeated in the UFC with a perfect 6-0 record including a dominant victory over No. 3 ranked lightweight Rafael dos Anjos in his last fight. He’s not a fan of anybody getting a title shot ahead of him — especially not Cerrone or Alvarez.
"Nate Diaz smashed him, Rafael dos Anjos smashed him, Benson Henderson, Anthony Pettis knocked him out, I don’t know why no one says ‘Khabib is the No. 1 contender’? 6-0 in the UFC, 22-0," Nurmagomedov told FOX Sports on Thursday.
I am GSP in Russia. The last two years, I am No. 1 fighter pound-for-pound in Russia. I think I deserve my title shot
— Khabib Nurmagomedov
"Everyone says ‘well if Rafael dos Anjos wins maybe he’ll get a title shot’, I smashed Rafael dos Anjos. Benson Henderson lost to Rafael dos Anjos. Eddie Alvarez is 0-0 in the UFC, if he wins he doesn’t deserve a title shot. Donald Cerrone, he lost many times in the UFC. Nate Diaz in his last eight fights, he’s 4-4. Gilbert Melendez is 1-1 in the UFC and the UFC has given him two title shots. I am 6-0 (in the UFC) and 22-0."
The Russian fighter hasn’t been cleared to return to action just yet, but the day is drawing nearer and he’s already back in the gym working to stay in the best shape possible so when he’s ready to go he can fight right away. His hope is to watch UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis battle No. 1 contender Gilbert Melendez in December and then face the winner in early 2015.
"You tell me that Anthony Pettis or Gilbert Melendez is ready to go by April or May and I’ll be ready to go. Please give me my title shot, I deserve it. I smashed everybody. Now, I’m ready and I deserve my title shot," Nurmagomedov said.
"Cowboy can shut up, you’re not the lightweight contender. I am the next lightweight contender. You’ve lost many times in the UFC. I am undefeated in the UFC. If the UFC gives me the title shot you will have a new undefeated and undisputed lightweight champion. 23-0."
Beyond his accolades in the Octagon, Nurmagomedov has been working tirelessly to increase his fan base in the United States as well by learning English over the last several months and needless to say he’s a quick learner (the entire interview for this story was done in English).
One place Nurmagomedov already has a rabid following is in his home country of Russia, where he’s a national celebrity and regarded as one of the top athletes from any sport. As a matter of fact, Nurmagomedov believes he’s got four times the support as Canadian hero Georges St-Pierre because Russia has quadruple the population and they all seem to be big fans of the former Sambo champion.
"I am GSP in Russia," Nurmagomedov said. "The last two years, I am No. 1 fighter pound-for-pound in Russia. I think I deserve my title shot."
If you notice a running theme it’s that Nurmagomedov is making it clear that he not only wants a shot at the UFC lightweight title, he believes he’s earned it. With an undefeated record and a country on his side it would appear all of the pieces are in place to put Nurmagomedov in a title fight in 2015.
He’s just making sure the UFC and all of the other fighters in the division are aware that he’s next and they will just have to keep waiting in line — behind him of course.
"I want this fight, I want the title shot," Nurmagomedov said. "I want Anthony Pettis but if Gilbert Melendez wins, I’ll fight him no problem. I’ll go and do my job and I smashed everybody before. Whoever wins this fight, I want the fight."