Who should Khabib Nurmagomedov face to go 30-0?

The last time the UFC were on Fight Island, we saw the end of arguably the greatest career in mixed martial arts history.

Khabib Nurmagomedov took just two rounds to submit Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October to move to 29-0 professionally, before retiring in the octagon post-fight in honour of his father.

Abdulmanap has been the coach of his son Khabib since forever, and the two shared a very close bond. When he passed away due to complications from COVID-19 during the summer, the lightweight champion’s future was cast into doubt.

He decided to fight on and the UFC made the fight between him and interim champion Gaethje. Fight week seemed normal, as the Russian spoke about potentially moving to 30-0 after the fight but in his post-fight interview he revealed that he had made a promise to his mother that he wouldn’t fight again without his father.

Since then though, the UFC haven’t stripped him of the title and he hasn’t relinquished the belt leaving question marks over his future.

He has reiterated on several occasions that his decision is final and that he won’t fight again unless he receives the blessing of his mother, but that hasn’t stopped Dana White from talking about it.

UFC president White has insisted that he believes Khabib will fight one more time, to hit the 30-0 mark that his father had wanted for him. Opponents have been loosely discussed and the two will have a meeting in Abu Dhabi during this two week spell that the UFC are back on Fight Island.

But who should have the honour of being Khabib’s final fight, when he’s already beaten the best of the best in the division?

UFC 229 - Press Conference : News Photo

The obvious answer is the winner of UFC 257’s main event between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Both men have already fallen victim to Khabib during his title run, both tapping out to the Russian champion.

However, both have won in impressive fashion since then and another win would see them right back at the front of the queue. Dana White has also admitted that they would probably be next in line, although it would depend on Khabib’s thoughts on the fight too.

Another option would be the winner of the co-main event at UFC 257, as Michael Chandler makes his UFC debut against Dan Hooker. Chandler seems to have a rocket strapped to his back, with White pushing him to the moon. He served as back up for the title fight at UFC 254 and now his first bout is against someone in the top six of the rankings.

A win would likely propel him straight into the title picture as a new challenger for Khabib to take on, who would be carrying big momentum into the fight.

Charles Oliveira will have something else on the mind though. After dominating Tony Ferguson to a decision victory, he has now won eight fights in a row and is ranked at number three in the official rankings.

He has called for the next title shot or a fight against the winner of Poirier vs McGregor, but White has recently said that if “everything goes to plan” his next fight will be against Justin Gaethje.

As crazy as it may sound, ideally none of them should get the next shot. That should be reserved for a super-fight against Georges St-Pierre.

GSP was the reigning welterweight champion for five years before taking a long break from the sport, before returning to become middleweight champion and then retiring.

He has continued to train though and when Khabib mentioned the prospect of potentially fighting him, he responded in a positive manner. The weight cut could prove to be a problem, but if GSP could guarantee that he would be able to make the weight, there is no better legacy fight.

Both men have made a name for themselves with their tremendous ground game and it would be a spectacle between two fighters who have looked unbeatable in the octagon for the vast majority of their career.

Both men are in the conversation when it comes to greatest of all-time and are physically in phenomenal condition. What better way to sign of both of their careers than a fight against each other?

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