Former UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov has shared his thoughts on whom he believes is the second best lightweight competitor of all-time — heaping praise on former two-weight gold holder, sport pioneer, B.J. Penn.
Khabib, widely considered one of the greatest and dominant lightweight fighters in the history of professional mixed martial arts, called time on his professional career last October following a successful lightweight title unification victory over then-interim gold holder, Justin Gaethje.
The victory capped off a splendid, gold-laden career for the Dagestani grappling sensation — adding Gaethje to prior successful title outings against another former interim champion, Dustin Poirier as well as a successful title defense against former two-weight gold holder, Conor McGregor.
A renowned sambo practitioner who achieved monumental success in the Octagon, Khabib clinched the then-vacant lightweight title with a one-sided unanimous decision win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 back in April of 2018 — following prior successes against the likes of Edson Barboza, Michael Johnson, Gleison Tibau, and former lightweight kingpin, Rafael dos Anjos.
Speaking recently at a press event, Khabib was asked for his opinion on whom he considers to be the second best lightweight fighter of all-time, where he named Hawaiian veteran, Penn — outlining the fact Penn struck gold within both the lightweight and a division higher at welterweight.
“I think the impersonation of the lightweight division was B.J. Penn for a long time,” Khabib said. “I can explain. Despite of (sic) many defeats, he won the lightweight title, defended it and move up to the welterweights, and won the belt there. Then he had lost to one of the best fighters ever, Georges St-Pierre. B.J. Penn, I think we can put him out there.“
Penn, 42, boasts a 16-14-2 professional record, calling time on his career back in May of 2019 at UFC 237 after he suffered a unanimous decision loss to former Strikeforce gold holder, Clay Guida.
One of the most recognizable figures in professional mixed martial arts, Penn is a whopping 5th. degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Andre Pederneiras, winning gold in the 2000 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships — and submitting six of his opponents to boot.
The Hall of Fame inductee has scored iconic and memorable victories over the likes of Din Thomas, Caol Uno, Matt Serra, Takanori Gomi, Matt Hughes (x2), Duane Ludwig, Rodrigo, and Renzo Gracie, Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk, Jens Pulver, Diego Sanchez, and Kenny Florian. Penn successfully defended the lightweight title on three occasions, whilst lodging a sole successful welterweight title knockback.