UFC 254 ended in dramatic fashion for its lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov after submitting challenger Justin Gaethje in the second round of their title bout at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. Nurmagomedov won in class fashion, falling to his knees, overcome with emotion before showing sportsmanship in going over to his beaten opponent after the bout, dedicating the win to his late father and coach, Abdulmanap, who passed away due to complications from COVID-19 and finally announcing his retirement from the sport of MMA with an unblemished 29-0 record.
With his fight career in the rear-view mirror, came discussions of him becoming the greatest fighter of all time. Being ranked amongst the greatest fighters who ever stepped inside the Octagon like Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Jose Aldo, and Demetrious Johnson just to name a few would be meaningful to anyone. Being given the GOAT title on top of retiring undefeated as champion is an even bigger privilege for Nurmagomedov.
Many people who put him in that category would feel comfortable with the decision to do so without regret. Apparently, not everyone may feel that way about the 32-year old MMA retiree. That includes the 33-year old entrant of the UFC heavyweight division, former light-heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
Jones went on a Twitter rant about Nurmagomedov being called a GOAT.
Having won 15 title matches in his career to Nurmagomedov’s four would make someone like Jones wonder, why Nurmagomedov, besides being flawless, has been mentioned as the greatest fighter of all-time. Jones has been in the company since 2008, with 20 victories inside the Octagon, 15 of them in title matches, as well as four championships to his resumé. Nurmagomedov has been in the UFC since 2012 with 13 victories, winning four title fights, going undefeated. With neither one of them being defeated by knockout, submission, or decision, Jones did suffer a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill, throwing illegal elbows while in the mount position.
The series of tweets that Jones posted following the event spoke volume and had many retweets, one in which was the man who called it himself, in Jon Anik.
As Jones begins a new chapter in the heavyweight division, looking to become the eighth fighter in UFC history to win two championship belts, where the attempt alone puts him in an even further position than Nurmagomedov. He may have been there with his numerous title wins. Jones has several good years of fighting left and while he continues to set higher standards for himself and the generations ahead, Nurmagomedov looks to be satisfied with his decision to stay retired, having suffered the loss of his father, his ultimate cornerman. This gives the Jones the ultimate green light to speak his mind while continuing to chase further greatness.