Conor McGregor would not be the top choice for Khabib Nurmagomedov if he becomes the UFC lightweight champion this weekend.
Nurmagomedov told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he would prefer to fight Georges St-Pierre rather than McGregor. A win over GSP, Nurmagomedov said, would be looked at as more impressive historically.
“I think about Georges St-Pierre,” Nurmagomedov said “He talk about he can make 155. He already middleweight and welterweight champion. Why not? For his legacy and my legacy, it’s very important.”
Nurmagomedov will fight Max Holloway, the UFC’s featherweight champion, for the lightweight belt in the main event of UFC 223 on Saturday night in Brooklyn. McGregor remains the lightweight champ, though, until that fight begins, per the UFC. He won the belt in November 2016, but has not fought in MMA since then and will inevitably be stripped.
Initially, Nurmagomedov was supposed to face interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson at UFC 223, but Ferguson pulled out Sunday due to injury. UFC president Dana White told ESPN that Ferguson would be stripped of the interim title and Nurmagomedov vs. Holloway would be for the real lightweight title.
The whole thing is a bit messy, but as far as Nurmagomedov is concerned he will be the 155-pound champion if he beats Holloway on Saturday night at Barclays Center. And as the champ, he’d hope to fight St-Pierre next.
“I’m gonna bring [up] Georges,” Nurmagomedov said. “But 100 percent, UFC is gonna push me against Conor.”
Nurmagomedov, 29, believes St-Pierre is the “greatest athlete ever” who has competed in the UFC. GSP is the former longtime UFC welterweight champion and he won the middleweight title at UFC 217 back in November by submitting Michael Bisping. St-Pierre vacated that title a month later and has been out due to digestive condition, ulcerative colitis.
In his opinion, Nurmagomedov feels that GSP would be a bigger fight for him. Maybe not from a financial standpoint, but from a significance standpoint in the history of the sport.
“I know him,” Nurmagomedov said of St-Pierre. “I respect him. When I grew up, I watched his fights. But about legacy, it’s very important for me. if I beat Conor or if I beat Georges St-Pierre, which one is better for my legacy?”