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Khabib Nurmagomedov responds to claim he would beat middleweight champion Israel Adesanya

UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov disagrees with his own manager’s assessment that he would have beaten middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

The former lightweight champion infamously used to cut around 50lb to make 155lb for his world title fights, and has sported a more full figure sine retiring in 2020. And many feel that if he were to ever make a comeback, it likely could no longer be at lightweight, and he would likely also have to bypass welterweight.

This led his manager Ali Abdelaziz, the controversial Dominance MMA boss, to declare recently that Nurmagomedov would have beaten Adesanya if the pair were to fight. However, the Russian disputes this, saying that it would never have happened that he would compete at such a heavy division, despite having often sparred with light-heavyweights in the gym.

“I’m not going to fight at 185,” he assured Main Event. “I’m not going to fight with him, it’s like, right now this is his time. Don’t try to take his greatness. How many years as middleweight champion? Three? Four? I think he deserves some respect.

“Don’t treat him like this, like some lightweight can beat him easily. If we grapple, we can grapple, like in the gym like I did with all these heavyweights, light heavyweights, middleweights, but going to fight and talking about ‘oh I can smash him’, I didn’t say this. People talk about this, I don’t agree with this.”

Nurmagomedov was speaking around his Hall of Fame induction, where he was honoured for his years of dominance in the sport. He rarely lost even a round during his run to the top of the lightweight division before abruptly retiring in 2020 at his mother’s request.

A number of efforts were made by the UFC to get him to turn back on his decision, and Floyd Mayweather even made him a $100million boxing offer. But the Russian ultimately stuck to his plan and was honoured this week with an induction into the promotion’s Hall of Fame.

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