Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

UFC

Beating Georges St-Pierre would make Khabib Nurmagomedov 'the best UFC fighter of all time'

Russian fighter's coach says lightweight champion may retire after two more bouts

A match-up between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre would determine the greatest UFC fighter of all-time, according to the former’s coach, Javier Mendez.

Both Nurmagomedov and St-Pierre have expressed an interest in making the bout happen, with the undefeated lightweight champion saying earlier this month that he wanted to take on the former welterweight and middleweight belt-holder next April.

St-Pierre, 39, last competed in 2017, when he defeated Michael Bisping to claim the middleweight crown, but has never closed the door on a potential return to the octagon.

Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, takes on interim champion Justin Gaethje in a unification clash at UFC 254 in October, with Abu Dhabi expected to host.

Speaking to Monday’s Hablemos MMA podcast (via MMA Junkie), Mendez said the winner of a fight between his star pupil and St-Pierre (GSP) would be rightfully deemed the greatest combatant in UFC history.

“Yeah, I think so, and so does Khabib,” Mendez said in his native Spanish. “The person that beats GSP will be the best of all time, I think so.”

Nurmagomedov, 31, has been tipped to retire from the sport should he defeat Gaethje and then dispatch St-Pierre. The Dagestan native is currently unbeaten in all 28 professional mixed martial arts bouts, with many suggesting he will seek to win twice more before retiring. A 30-0 record was believed to have been the wish of Nurmagomedov’s father Abdulmanap, who died last month from heart complications arising from contracting Covid-19.

“Yeah, it’s a big possibility,” Mendez said. “He might do that because all the times that I was with him and his dad, they’ve talked about those things: two more fights, 30-0.

“They want a legacy fight, then be done and help the other guys that are starting their fighting careers. There’s great fighters - cousins of his like Umar and Usman Nurmagomedov. They’re his blood. They’re going to be great fighters. Islam Makhachev, too.

“So he wants to help them get to the title. I don’t think he’ll fight beyond that, but anything is possible. I was a fighter too and when you’re finishing a career, you feel it in your heart, you want to fight more and it’s hard not to fight. I don’t think he’ll continue fighting, but anything is possible.”

Mendez added of the possible St-Pierre encounter: “[Khabib] doesn’t want that fight for money and that’s what his father wanted. He told me, ‘That’s what my father wants. What do you think coach?’ And I was like, ‘You know, if that’s what your father wants, we can do it, and if that’s what you want as well.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I want to do it for my father, so I’m like, ‘Let’s do it.’

“But if he doesn’t want to end his career he can jump back in there. He’s young, he’s only 31, so he still has a more years of fighting. I’m not going to tell him he has to fight. I’m going to go with what he wants to do.”

Updated: August 25, 2020 11:07 AM

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