The UFC’s longtime play-by-play announcer gave his thoughts on the future of top UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, and why the UFC can’t book him for a big money fight.
Assuming that Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather doesn’t actually get booked, the ‘Notorious’ Irishman has two obvious opponents for his next lightweight bout – three if you want to throw Nate Diaz in there – Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Ferguson is on a 9-fight win streak, having beatin top contenders Edson Barboza and Josh Thomson along with former champion Rafael dos Anjos, it’s hard to argue that anyone could have a better case for contention.
Except maybe Nurmagomedov.
‘The Eagle’ has never been defeated in his 24 fight career, including his 8 UFC bouts. He also has a win over Rafael dos Anjos, and top contender Michael Johnson. And the dominant nature of his wins has given him something of a juggernaut-like reputation in his division. Only, as Joe Rogan sees it, the UFC can’t afford to risk putting Nurmagomedov in a big money fight.
Khabib was set to face Ferguson at UFC 209 in March of 2017, but complications due to weight cutting saw him removed from the bout. In a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, the longtime UFC commentator says those complications should give the UFC serious pause about booking a Khabib vs. McGregor title fight (transcript via Daily Star).
“You can’t, you can’t!” Rogan said in response to the idea of booking Khabib vs. McGregor. “And by the way, one of the things we talked about on the fight companion podcast we did the other day, we pulled up the Luke Rockhold quote, Luke Rockhold is his training partner.
“And he was saying that he couldn’t get blood to his liver, that was something was going on. He was in deep pain because he wasn’t getting blood to his liver.”
“I was like, ‘Are you f**king kidding me?’ Rogan continued. “And this guy is going to do that again? He’s going to lose that weight again, after that? And apparently he said that he had the same problem in the Michael Johnson fight.”
“The Michael Johnson fight, he wound up getting down to 155 but he was having the same issue, where he wasn’t getting blood to his liver. Like, what the fuck man?”
Of course, until McGregor actually returns to the cage to defend his title, talk about who he’s going to face is more or less moot. The lightweight champ is on a short hiatus for the birth of his first child, and in his time off has been ardently pursuing a boxing vs. MMA superfight with Floyd Mayweather. Even if that bout doesn’t get booked, there are enough fighters outside the 155 division looking for a shot at McGregor that there’s no guarantee that he’ll defend the belt anytime soon. Eventually, both Ferguson and Khabib may find themselves fighting anyone and everyone other than the lightweight champ.