TORONTO – Khabib Nurmagomedov had a perfect career, but three fights eluded him.
Nurmagomedov’s UFC lightweight title reign included wins over Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and finally Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 to cap off his undefeated run as a mixed martial artist.
The one fight that got away for the now-retired Nurmagomedov is the obvious one against Tony Ferguson, which was canceled five times for various reasons.
“Of course it was Tony Ferguson for sure,” Nurmagomedov said during a Sunday speaking appearance in Toronto for Class A Events/Penny Appeal Canada. “But this has never happened.”
But Nurmagomedov (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC) said there were two other fighters he was interested in facing. Although he respects him greatly, Nurmagomedov catered to the Canadian crowd by mentioning former two-division champion and one of the greatest fighters of all time, Georges St-Pierre, as well as former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
“In my mind? Yes, it was couple fighters – it was couple fighters for sure,” Nurmagomedov said. “OK, GSP, if you guys want – but I respect this guy a lot. I grew up with his fights. When he became UFC Champion in 2007, I (hadn’t started) my professional career. I was an amateur fighter and I watched a lot of his fights with my father. GSP was like a role model in MMA for me. If you guys want (that) fight, OK – let’s say GSP.
“And I think it was 2014-15 when Anthony Pettis was UFC champion. (At) that time, I really, really wanted to fight this guy, but then he lost his title vs. Rafael dos Anjos. After that, his career went down – he never came back. It was Anthony Pettis, Tony Ferguson and Canadian superstar GSP.”