Chael Sonnen thinks Gregor Gillespie could’ve gotten the upper hand against former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the Octagon.
Gillespie’s lone defeat in his MMA career came by way of a head kick against Kevin Lee at UFC 244. Outside of that, he has mauled all of his opponents, including most recently Diego Ferreira last May.
Gillespie’s always been known to have a grappling-first style when it comes to fighting. Sonnen believes this could’ve challenged Nurmagomedov as he made his rise in the lightweight division and his tenure as the champion.
During a segment on his YouTube channel, Sonnen explained why he believes Gillespie could’ve beaten Nurmagomedov while both were competing in the UFC.
“When I would have private conversations… people would ask me all the time, is there anyone that could beat Khabib. Who’s the guy that can stop Khabib and in private conversations I would say we actually have a guy now,” Sonnen said. “He’s 11-0, he’s a national wrestling champion, nobody’s ever come close to taking him down, he’s taken absolutely everybody down, oh, and by the way, he can hold up.
“One thing that Khabib could do was push a pace that was much higher than what the opponent could push back. (Gregor) made his living getting people tired. That’s how highly I personally think of him. Now in all fairness, I did not do that publicly but the reason I didn’t do that publicly was you didn’t know what a Gregor Gillespie was.” (h/t PunditArena)
Gillespie’s loss to Lee knocked him out of the lightweight title picture, and he’s still hoping to get back in the thick of things at 155 pounds. He’s allegedly had trouble finding a next opponent, but he recently called out former interim champ Tony Ferguson for a fight.
Nurmagomedov left the fight game in 2020 after the death of his father, Abdulmanap. His last fight in the Octagon came against Justin Gaethje in a second-round submission.
Sonnen is never afraid to speak his mind, but many might classify this as a “hot take.” Nurmagomedov retired as arguably the best UFC fighter of all time while Gillespie is still finding traction in his UFC run.
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen?