Former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov doesn’t think Charles Oliveira has done enough to surpass him among the lightweight greats.
Although he’s no longer champion due to missing weight before his title fight with Justin Gaethje earlier this month, Oliveira (33-8 MMA, 21-8 UFC) is coming off three consecutive finishes of Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, and Gaethje.
Oliveira, the UFC’s all-time leader in overall finishes and submissions, has been on a tear lately, which has inserted him in the conversation of the greatest lightweights of all time. But Nurmagomedov (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC), who retired undefeated, shut down the comparisons between the two.
“He impressed me like little bit, but every fight he goes down,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “This one is a little bit bad for him. Every fight he goes down, couple of times. Last fight, it was like, how many? Two, three times knockdowns? With Michael Chandler, with Dustin Poirier, with Justin Gaethje, he always goes down. This is like a little bit questionable, you know. Nobody ever touched my face, and all the time he go down. People cannot talk about like compare me vs. Charles Oliveira.
“He tapped in UFC eight times (correction: three times). Please, come on. When he tapped to Jim Miller, Anthony Pettis, Holloway, Felder – it was Charles Oliveira. It was not Khabib. If you want to deserve the name greatest lightweight, he has to beat Islam (Makhachev), Beneil (Dariush), a couple more guys, and then we can talk. He has to be a professional and make weight when he has a championship belt.”
However, Nurmagomedov’s thoughts on his all-time ranking does not mean he can’t acknowledge the current run Oliveira is on and the recent career resurgence.
“But what he’s doing, this is very impressive,” Nurmagomedov added. “How he came back from so many losses, and now he has good ground, he has good striking game. Knees, elbows, kicks, he looks good. That’s why I really want to see him vs. Islam. This is like a big test for both of them.”