Star Theorizes That Khabib Left MMA to Avoid Fighting UFC Destroyer

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Getty Khabib Nurmagomedov

Sean O’Malley recently threw out the idea that former UFC lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov retired from MMA to avoid fighting Charles Oliveira.

Nurmagomedov left the sport in 2020 after his third consecutive 155-pound title defense. He only needed two rounds to dispatch Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, putting him to sleep with a triangle choke.

“The Eagle” has a professional mixed martial arts record of 29-0, which includes submission wins over the likes of former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor and ex-interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier.

Nurmagomedov is touted as one of the greatest fighters ever, and he walked away from active competition rated as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the organization, as per the promotion’s official standings.

In The Eagle’s absence, a new lightweight king has emerged.

Oliveira won Nurmagomedov’s vacant belt in May 2021 when he took out former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler via TKO at UFC 262. He defended the strap in December by catching Poirier in a rear-naked choke at UFC 269.

In May, “Do Bronx” was poised to tie Nurmagomedov’s title defense record. However, he missed weight and lost his 155-pound strap. He still fought Gaethje at UFC 274 and needed less than a round to submit “The Highlight.”

The belt remains vacant, and Oliveira will likely look to reclaim his throne in his next fight.

O’Malley Theorizes That Nurmagomedov May Have Not Wanted to Fight Oliveira

In O’Malley’s eyes, Oliveira is still the reigning champion, despite his loss to the scale. And he thinks there’s a chance Nurmagomedov didn’t want to be tested by the Brazilian. So, he retired instead.

“That’s the one interesting fight that I would like to see if Khabib came back in the division,” O’Malley said to MMA Fighting in a recent interview. “It would be Charles. Everyone else I think Khabib kind of mauls. I think Charles is the only one that can really give Khabib problems and, who knows, maybe that’s why Khabib stepped away.

“Maybe he saw, ‘I don’t want that guy.’ Who knows, but yeah, that’s one fight that I would be interested in seeing Khabib come back for. It would be a massive fight.”

Regardless of if they fight, O’Malley sees Oliveira as the champion “and everyone knows it.”

“Charles is the champ and everyone knows it,” O’Malley continued. “That’s just it. I don’t think anybody looks at him as not being the champ. I don’t think you can find one person that thinks he’s not the champ or wouldn’t call him the champ.

“I hope he got his pay-per-view money, I hope he is making the championship money going into the next fight. Everyone’s got to look at him as the champ, the fight’s he’s been doing, the performances he’s been putting on. Charles Oliveira’s the champ and everyone knows it.”

O’Malley Is Competing Against Pedro Munhoz Next Month

O’Malley is set to get back to action next month. He’ll take on Pedro Munhoz during UFC 276 on July 2 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

O’Malley will look to extend his win streak to four while also making another leap up the lightweight rankings. “Suga” is currently ranked No. 13 in the division whereas Munhoz sits at No. 10.

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