Khabib Nurmagomedov has never been the kind of fighter to shy away from controversy, from verbally attacking the French president to physically attacking Conor McGregor‘s training team, it’s safe to say he has made his fair share of headlines.
After Aldo’s impressive display at UFC 265, which saw him walk away with a unanimous decision against Pedro Munhoz, plenty of fans and pundits discussed whether Aldo had returned to his peak. One journalist, however, remembered Nurmagomedov’s previous comments on this subject; that once a fighter falls off, he is done for good.
During a press conference, Nurmagomedov was told that Aldo is the living proof that his theory of a fighter being unable to enjoy two peaks, is wrong. Khabib was quick to disagree, stating that “a guy wins one fight and everyone starts talking.”
He went on to point out that his main issue with the hype currently surrounding Aldo was the level of his opponent.
Khabib used examples including McGregor’s fight with Donald Cerrone and even the Russian football team. “The level of Russia’s football team will be shown against Croatia, not Malta,” implying that Pedro Munhoz was not a hard enough opponent to conclude that Aldo was back at his peak.
Khabib rather abruptly (and somewhat arrogantly) finished his argument with the statement: “I know better, thank you, you’re a journalist and I’m a fighter.”
Of course, statements like this don’t go unnoticed by fans and many were quick to point out the hypocrisy in Khabib’s statements. There was one fan in particular who appeared to make a very interesting point.
Twitter user @DovySimuMMA posted an image comparing the careers of the two fighters. Even a quick glance over the numbers was enough to spot that the statistics didn’t show Nurmagomedov in a particularly flattering manner.
The first section of the image showed the difference in records of each of the fighters’ first 16 opponents. Aldo’s first 16 opponents had a combined record of 114 wins to 41 losses, while Khabib’s opponents had a combined record of 67 wins to 49 losses. These numbers appear to show that not only were the Brazilian’s opponents more experienced, with a total of 155 fights compared to 116, they were also of higher quality with a win percentage of 73.5% compared to Khabib’s opponents racking up a win percentage of only 57.7%.
The second part of the image shows the number of title defences by each fighter, this figure is also relevant to Khabib’s comments as it’s safe to assume that in a title fight the majority of opponents are going to be of a high quality. Unfortunately for Khabib, this is another statistic that goes in the favour of Aldo, with an impressive nine title defences compared to Khabib’s three.
The third statistic shown in the image is the number of fights each fighter has had against world champions, and once again the numbers do not look favourable for Khabib. The Russian has only fought two world champions during his career, whereas Aldo has fought nine, an incredible amount for any fighter. Of course, there is the argument that Khabib can only fight the opponents put in front of him, but it’s safe to say that most UFC fighters have at least some input into who their opponents will be.
The final part of the image shows the number of victories in other weight classes, whilst it is not particularly common for fighters to test themselves in weight classes other than their own, it has been done on multiple occasions. Aldo himself has two victories in other weight classes, while once again Khabib comes out on the bottom in this category with zero wins.
Overall, it appears that, while Khabib was quick to make comments about the level of Aldo’s opponent, a quick comparison of their careers seems to prove that the Brazilian could easily argue that on the whole, he has faced the harder group of fighters.
It would appear reading through the comments that even some of Khabib’s own fans would agree. Twitter user @notworthkyle commented: “Even though I’m a bigger fan of Nurmy, I don’t think there’s any debate about who had the better career.”