Khabib and GSP are two of the consensus frontrunners in the debate over who holds the crown as the greatest of all time. But while they have that in common, they also share another similarity: retiring on top.
While “The Eagle” hung up his gloves from his place atop the lightweight mountain following his victory over Justin Gaethje in 2020, “Rush” called time on his career early in 2019 having not competed since his middleweight title win against Michael Bisping two years prior.
St-Pierre retired with a 26-2 record, having not been beaten in 13 fights since his shock defeat to Matt Serra in 2007. Across the decade after his final blemish, he held titles in two weight classes, defeated the likes of BJ Penn, Thiago Alves, Carlos Condit, and Nick Diaz, and defended the 170-pound belt a record nine times.
But despite reaching another throne as recently as 2017, Khabib believes St-Pierre lost his desire to fight long before his retirement.
Khabib: “For This Sport, You Have To Be Hungry”
During an appearance on the Full Send Podcast, Khabib discussed St-Pierre and his own failed matchup with the great Canadian. While a superfight between the pair was long-rumored and reportedly even offered to Khabib as recently as 2021, it never came to fruition.
The Dagestani suggested that when he was in his own prime, GSP was long past his. And despite the fact “Rush” returned from a previous lengthy hiatus to win the middleweight strap in 2017, Khabib believes it was clear St-Pierre’s hunger was gone during his controversial 2013 victory over Johny Hendricks.
“When I was on top, when it was my prime time, it was not his prime time. When did he finish? ’12, ’13? After four years he came back, fight only with Michael Bisping. Last, almost 10 years, I think his time is finished,” said Khabib. “My opinion is his prime time was like 2010, ’11, ’12, but ’13 it was not his time.
“Even when he fight Johny Hendricks. On this time, I feel he’s not enjoying (being) inside the cage. He’s not hungry anymore. I don’t know about his feeling, this is what I feel. For this sport, you have to be hungry. If you’re not hungry, if you don’t want this, you have to finish,” Khabib concluded.
While some of the UFC’s best continue their careers in spite of losing streaks and devastating skids, Khabib and St-Pierre ended their in-cage stints on top. While we’ll never know how much both men still had to give inside the Octagon, it’s safe to say the pair accomplished their goals and secured memorable legacies.
Nevertheless, most would be lying if they denied harboring some disappointment at the fact we never got to see the two GOAT contenders share the cage…
How do you think a fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre would have played out?