Khabib, regarded by many as the greatest of all time, retired from active competition following a third successful title defense in 2020. The Dagestani departed the sport having amassed a perfect 29-0 record, including 13 triumphs on the sport’s biggest stage.
While his dominance at 155 pounds was unparalleled, Khabib’s detractors use his one-weight UFC career to downplay his claims to the GOAT throne. But although his Octagon tenure saw him compete solely at lightweight, barring a few catchweight appearances, stories from training have suggested that “The Eagle” has no issue competing with higher-weight fighters.
That was recently on display when footage of Khabib out-grappling former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold emerged.
And Khabib’s manager, Dominance MMA Management CEO Abdelaziz, believes that his man would have no issue capturing the middleweight gold if he was to return at that weight.
During a recent interview with Sherdog, Abdelaziz said that he’s witnessed Khabib beat fighters of all weights, including heavyweight, in the gym. With that in mind, and given Khabib’s current 200-pound frame, the Egyptian manager thinks the Dagestani would be able to stop reigning middleweight champ Adesanya inside three rounds.
“I’m gonna say something, and I know a lot of people gonna talk bad (about it)… Khabib now weighs 200 pounds. If Khabib come tomorrow and cut to 185, he will stop Israel Adesanya in three rounds, this is my opinion,” said Abdelaziz. “I see it. He beat heavyweights, light heavyweights, welterweights, lightweights. He’s unstoppable. He’s like a tractor trailer.
“Styles, if Khabib want to come back and talk with Dana White, say, ‘Let me fight at middleweight,’ he will finish Israel Adesanya in three rounds because the style of fights. (Adesanya) cannot stop his wrestling, he cannot stop his grappling. Striking, of course, Israel is the best striker on this planet,” added Abdelaziz. “But he (Khabib) can come back and fight middleweight and become a champion today.”
Having seen Khabib’s exchanges with Rockhold, who is still active and gearing up for a comeback this summer, Abdelaziz’s claims are perhaps not as outlandish as some would have branded them before that footage emerged.
While Khabib has consistently rejected the idea of any sort of return to the cage, the idea of a venture into a higher weight class is still an intriguing prospect to think about. And with “The Eagle” still going as hard as ever in the gym, some hope of a comeback will remain for the Russian’s fans.
How do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov would fare against Israel Adesanya at middleweight?