UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is on top of the mixed martial arts (MMA) world. With that lofty position comes the inevitable fighter claims they’re the only one who beats Khabib.
That was exactly the case when former Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler was asked about ‘The Eagle’ during an appearance on MMA Junkie Radio this week.
Chandler has claimed he would top Khabib in the past. That statement drew a lot of criticism due to the fact he doesn’t even fight in the UFC. Chandler stood by his claim that he didn’t call Khabib out, only made his pick. What others did with it wasn’t on him:
“I didn’t say, ‘Hey, Khabib, let’s fight in November at Madison Square Garden,’” Chandler said. “I made an assertion and a statement and let everyone else pick it apart, whether they like it or don’t like it.”
Khabib’s Countrymen Picking Chandler?
While it seemed a far-off possibility, Chandler insisted even Khabib’s Russian countrymen told him he was, in fact, the one who could beat Khabib in the weeks after UFC 229:
“There was a ton of people over my social media – all channels – as well as direct messages, people from Russia and from Dagestan, that were very complimentary of me and think I am the only guy that beat Khabib.”
Asked to explain why “The Eagle’s” fellow Russians and/or Dagestanis would betray him to side with him, Chandler said it was because he didn’t properly represent Muslim culture in the UFC 229 brawl:
“There’s fellow countrymen that don’t like Khabib, especially when you disrespect your country or your religion like that,” Chandler said. “Obviously, the Muslim culture is not what he displayed, as well as the Russian culture. So there were a lot of people that weren’t happy about that.”
Chandler clearly appreciates the stance of those fans, yet he also confirmed that he didn’t have a problem with how Khabib fought with McGregor’s camp at UFC 229:
“I don’t have a problem with what he did. He was standing up for himself, and there was a dude in (Conor McGregor’s) corner trying to provoke him.”
Chandler will face rival Brent Primus in their oft-discussed rematch for the Bellator 155-pound gold at their upcoming ‘Salute the Troops’ event.
He recently re-signed with Bellator on a long-term deal as well, so a chance to prove he’s the ‘only one’ to beat Khabib may never come.