Khabib Nurmagomedov believes it’s impossible for Tony Ferguson or any other lightweight to be considered elite at 37 years of age.
Justin Gaethje recently made headlines when he stated his belief that he never considered Ferguson to be an elite lightweight during the latter’s impressive 12-fight winning streak.
Now Nurmagomedov has followed his lead though he specifically spoke of Ferguson today as he mentioned his age.
“Maybe that would be Tony Ferguson [a fight where a win would erase all doubts], but I swear that I never considered him as an elite lightweight,” Nurmagomedov said speaking to Russian heavyweight Magomed Ismailov (via Middle Easy). “He was very good, but I never counted him so, because it’s impossible to be an elite at 37 years. It’s never been before and even Khabib cannot do this. At 37 years in the lightweight division, no way, but heavyweights can. It’s my opinion and you cannot change it.
“Secondly, since 2016 he fought Kevin Lee, [Edson] Barboza, [Anthony] Pettis, and [Donald] Cerrone and these four fighters have 20 losses for these four years. It means that since 2016 he didn’t fight good fighters. But now, he faced young and top fighters, I mean Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. They outclassed him, you saw this. Both fighters just dominated Tony. I was just dreaming about this fight. But it wasn’t destined, we had injuries in a row.”
It’s certainly fair to say that the present day Ferguson — currently on a two-fight losing streak — may not be elite anymore.
However, for Gaethje to state that he was never elite? That’s pushing it a bit too far considering how the entire combat sports world was eagerly anticipating a Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson fight for the best part of four years.
Regardless, do you agree with Nurmagomedov?