Out of action since tearing his meniscus training for a proposed UFC 178 bout with Donald Cerrone, undefeated UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov is back to training hard for his next fight.

The No. 2-ranked Dagestani grappler has won six consecutive bouts in the octagon, the most recent a decision over No. 3-ranked Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 11 in April. Because of that, “The Eagle” believes that he’s done enough to earn a title shot.

He appeared on MMA Junkie Radio to state his case to his UFC bosses:

“I’m training hard every day. Please, (UFC executives) Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta, give me my title shot. I deserve it.”

I like being undefeated, and if the UFC gives me a title shot, the UFC has next year an undefeated and undisputed lightweight champion. I’m 23-0. I think it’s very good for the UFC.”

Nurmagomedov believes he’s rightfully next in line to challenge the winner of UFC 181’s co-main event title fight between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. He doesn’t believe that Cerrone, who will face Myles Jury in the co-main event of UFC 182, deserves another shot at Pettis, even if he wins.

Nurmagomedov gave his relatively simple view of the rankings:

“First is Gilbert Melendez, and I am after him. I’m second. Cerrone lost a lot of times in the UFC – Nate Diaz, Benson Henderson, Rafael Dos Anjos, a lot of guys beat him. Eddie Alvarez lost, and Benson Henderson lost. I think, 100 percent, I am the No. 1 contender.”

“The Eagle” may have a good point, as he’s been largely unstoppable in his UFC tenure. His stifling wrestling and grappling should give any lightweight problems, but he has shown a tendency to slow a bit towards the end of his fights.

Nurmagomedov isn’t close to being a household name yet, but he knows the quickest path to becoming one lies in some solid self-promotion. Because of that fact, he got straight to the point and called out “Showtime,” who has held the belt hostage since winning it from Henderson at UFC 164 way back in August 2013:

“It’s a sport and a business, too, and I respect everyone. But I don’t respect Anthony Pettis. He’s champ, but he’s not a true champ. He’s a paper champ, and he hasn’t defended his title in one-and-a-half years.

Before I called out Nate Diaz, (saying) he’s scared, he doesn’t want this fight, it’s a very bad fight for him. Now, I call out Anthony Pettis. I think he’s scared, too, but Anthony and Nate don’t have good wrestling defense. (They) know I’ll smash them.”

Strong words from the soon-to-return Nurmagomedov, who could step back into a title shot after a champion emerges at UFC 181.

Will 2015 be the year of “The Eagle,” or will the lightweight champion send him to his first defeat?

Photo Credit: David Manning for USA TODAY Sports

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