Being blessed enough to be ranked the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the largest mixed martial arts organization in the world was more than enough for Khabib to exit the sport fulfilled and at peace with his body of work.
At the close of 2019, Khabib Nurmagomedov named who he considered the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. No, it wasn’t his own name that he uttered; it was instead the same man who is considered by many to be the #1 pound-for-pound fighter of all time, Jon “Bones” Jones.
Jon Jones had defended his light heavyweight championship twice that year, and all the other victories and title defenses in the years that preceded 2019 were very well documented within the MMA canon to have further cemented Jones as #1 P4P in the mind of Khabib and many others.
Fast forward one year later to UFC 254 when Khabib Nurmagomedov competed for the final time, defeating Justin Gaethje via second-round submission. After the fight, Khabib stunned the world by announcing his retirement, and he also had one parting request: to be recognized as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, a designation that the 29-0 Dagestani felt he had rightly earned.
Jon Jones could not sit idly by and watch Nurmagomedov lay claim to his spot at the top of the rankings, so Jonny Bones was quick to point out the wide gap in career title defenses between himself and Khabib. Khabib never responded to Jon Jones either directly or indirectly until now.
Khabib Argues Why He Deserved To Be #1 P4P
While Khabib did not address Jones’s argument for why he should have remained #1, he did elaborate on why he was more deserving of being ranked #1 pound-for-pound at that time over Jones and anyone else and why his eventual placement at the top was mission accomplished as far his career aspirations were concerned.
“For me, 30-0, 29-0, 15-0, it’s nothing. I fight, and I show the world from nowhere I come here and take over everything. At that moment [UFC 254], I was #1 pound-for-pound fighter. Nobody can say nothing. It was not Kamaru Usman. It was not Jon Jones, who fight very close fights with all these light heavyweights, like Ovince Saint Preux, Thiago [Santos], Anthony Smith, Dominick Reyes. These guys, [Jones] showed them very bad performanceh—and everything (that) happened with doping.
But what about me? I (mauled) everybody. And at that moment, 24th October, 2020, I was on the top. After that, what (happens), I don’t care.”
Khabib held on to the #1 ranking for several weeks until his retirement was eventually recognized, a move that baffled Jon Jones given his wide body of work. Khabib’s argument was more about the degree of domination combined with the quality level of recent performances, not necessarily that he had a better overall career than Jones.
Ultimately, Jones would return to #1 after Khabib was removed from the rankings, so both men eventually got what they wanted.
Who do you think is a better overall fighter? Khabib or Jon Jones?