The stakes of a potential Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Georges St-Pierre would be at an all-time high, at least according to Nurmagomedov’s coach.
Javier Mendez, the head coach of American Kickboxing Academy, believes a contest between Nurmagomedov, the current UFC lightweight champion, and St-Pierre, former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion, would determine the greatest fighter of all time.
“Yeah, I think so, and so does Khabib,” Mendez said in Spanish on Monday’s episode of “Hablemos MMA.” “The person that beats GSP will be the best of all time; I think so.”
Nurmagomedov and St-Pierre have been linked to each other for quite some time, as both fighters have expressed interest in facing each other.
St-Pierre hasn’t competed since defeating Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title in late 2017, but the Canadian has yet to close the door on returning to the cage.
Although the UFC has not necessarily been keen on the idea of a matchup between Nurmagomedov and St-Pierre, last month UFC president Dana White said he’s be interested in putting the bout together.
Nurmagovedov recently said he’d like to face St-Pierre and retire from the sport if first successful in defending his title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Oct. 24. Mendez thinks that’s a likely scenario for the Dagestani.
“Yeah, it’s a big possibility,” Mendez said. “He might do that because all the times that I was with him and his dad, they’ve talked about those things: two more fights, 30-0.
“They want to a legacy fight, then be done and help the other guys that are starting their fighting careers. There’s great fighters, cousins of his who are great fighter like Umar and Usman Nurmagomedov. Yhey’re his blood. They’re going to be great fighters. Islam Makhachev too.
“So he wants to help them get to the title. I don’t think he’ll fight beyond that, but anything is possible. I was a fighter too and when you’re finishing a career, you feel it in your heart, you want to fight more and it’s hard not to fight. I don’t think he’ll continue fighting, but anything is possible.”
A bout between Nurmagomedov and St-Pierre would be a blockbuster event, as the two are among the biggest stars in the company’s history.
Nurmagomedov is unbeaten and arguable the best UFC lightweight champion of all time. Meanwhile, St-Pierre is a former two-division champion and already considered by many to be the greatest fighter of all time.
Mendez said Khabib is not in it for the money the mega fight could generate, but more about his legacy and honoring the wishes of his father who passed away this summer due to complications with COVID-19.
“He doesn’t want that fight for money and that’s what his father wanted,” Mendez said. “He told me, ‘That’s what my father wants. What do you think coach?’ And I was like, ‘You know, if that’s what your father wants, we can do it, and if that’s what you want as well.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I want to do it for my father, so I’m like, ‘Let’s do it.’
“But if he doesn’t want to end his career he can jump back in there. He’s young, he’s only 31, so he still has a more years of fighting. I’m not going to tell him he has to fight. I’m going to go with what he wants to do.”