One of the major concerns entering UFC 219 fight week was whether or not Khabib Nurmagomedov would be able to make the weight for his lightweight fight against Edson Barboza. Thankfully for him and his fans, he did.
Due to injuries and poor weight cuts, Khabib has not fought for UFC since he defeated Michael Johnson at UFC 205 in November 2016. While he currently holds one of the longest undefeated streaks in MMA with 24 wins, his fight against Barboza this weekend could very well be a career-defining fight.
Speaking prior to making the weight ahead of UFC 219, the Russian admitted that there is a lot of pressure on him to perform this weekend, via Bloody Elbow.
Nurmagomedov said: “Yeah, I feel this. I agree with fans, I agree with the UFC, because I'm professional. I have to make weight. And after I have to show very good performance. This fight is a real contender fight. He's top five, I'm top five, and after this fight I'm going to fight for the title, when I beat him. This year I want to finish, and new year I want to come like number one contender.”
While Khabib struggled to make the weight cut for his UFC 209 fight against Tony Ferguson earlier this year, he said it's been much easier to make the cut for this fight.
“Yeah, I think this is much different. Because now I am healthy, this is number one. Because before, I feel sick, I feel bad, inside. Now I feel perfect. After last situation, I make surgery, I make move to Germany, make rehab – a couple months, like 3-4 months. September I begging to come back, and last four months I train hard for this fight.
“And we're here, like, two days before fight and I can't believe. When I'm beginning this in September, I think it's going to be very hard – the weight. It was really really hard weight, but everything go fast. Now, two days before fight, tomorrow morning when I show weight, and Saturday night, I'm going to show how Eagle is hungry. I have to catch somebody inside the cage, this is very important. Eagle have to eat.”
It appears as though because of the smoother weight cut, the Russian is considering dropping down a weight class to featherweight.
“No, I'm not joking. I am serious about this. But first of all, I have two fights at lightweight: Edson and Tony. I want to finish this business, and afterward I think, with my team, what we're going to do. But I am already thinking about this.”
Khabib could be a success at featherweight, and it looks like his mind is set on moving down to that weight division. How quickly that happens though depends on how he does against Barboza on Saturday. Nurmagomedov vs Max Holloway though would be an interesting fight.