Khabib Nurmagomedov leapfrogs Jon Jones on UFC's pound-for-pound rankings

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrates after a lightweight title bout win. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Khabib Nurmagomedov got what he asked for.

The UFC lightweight champion was bumped from No. 2 up to the No. 1 spot on the organization’s pound-for-pound rankings on Tuesday.

“I know only one thing I want from UFC,” Nurmagomedov said Saturday after announcing his retirement following his dominant UFC 254 win against Justin Gaethje. “Tuesday, you guys have to put me on No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world because I deserve this. UFC undisputed, undefeated lightweight champion, 13-0, 13 in UFC, 29-0 in my pro MMA career. I think I deserve it.”

Nurmagomedov’s retirement is related to the July passing of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

The UFC’s official fighter rankings are determined by a voting panel comprised of a selection of MMA media members, so overall it’s a subjective endeavour and recency bias often comes into play.

“I want to congratulate Khabib for an outstanding career,” Jones wrote on Twitter minutes after Nurmagomedov removed his four-ounce gloves for the final time. “I know he made his father along with millions of fans around the world incredibly proud today. May God continue to bless him on his journey.”

Jones also immediately defended his own legacy and made the case for why he should remain in the top spot on the pound-for-pound rankings.

Jones, like Nurmagomedov, has never been finished in his MMA career, however his record has a couple blemishes. Jones is 26-1 with one no-contest in his 28-fight career that began 2008. Jones’s lone loss was a disqualification in his third UFC bout when he stopped Matt Hamill with illegal elbows in 2009. His no-contest resulted from a failed drug test that overturned his 2017 knockout victory over Daniel Cormier in their anticipated rematch at UFC 214.

Jones has been at times widely considered the sport’s greatest talent. The longtime 205-pound champion, who recently voluntarily vacated his title to pursue a run at heavyweight, has a more impressive resume in terms of name value, but Nurmagomedov was a more dominant fighter relative to his competition in regards to judges’ scorecards and one-sided beatdowns.

“He’s the toughest human being on the planet,” UFC president Dana White said of Nurmagomedov at the UFC 254 post-fight press conference. “He’s the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”

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