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Why Khabib Nurmagomedov Misses Out on GOAT Status, According to Dana White

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Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated Dagestani fighter, has left an indelible mark on the world of mixed martial arts (MMA). With a flawless record of 29-0 and a reputation for dominance, ‘The Eagle’ has soared to great heights. Yet, despite his remarkable achievements, he falls short of being universally hailed as the greatest of all time (GOAT).

In a recent interview with Lex Fridman, UFC CEO Dana White weighed in on Khabib’s legacy. White acknowledged Khabib’s immense potential but pointed out the reasons why he doesn’t quite qualify for GOAT status.

  1. The Potential That Wasn’t Fully Realized: Dana White believes that Khabib had the potential to be in the running for the GOAT title. However, he didn’t stick around long enough to cement that status. Injuries plagued Khabib’s career, delaying his ascent to the pinnacle of MMA. Had he remained injury-free and fought consistently, his trajectory might have been different.
  2. The Unfinished Journey: Khabib’s decision to retire after the passing of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, significantly impacted his legacy. The emotional toll of losing his father led ‘The Eagle’ to vow that he would not compete in MMA again. While this decision was deeply personal, it also meant that Khabib’s career ended prematurely. GOAT status often requires sustained excellence over an extended period, and Khabib’s early retirement hindered that.
  3. Resume Scrutiny: Critics argue that Khabib’s resume lacks the diversity of opponents seen in other GOAT contenders. While he defeated formidable foes like Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, some question the overall depth of his competition. GOAT discussions often involve comparing résumés, and Khabib’s relatively limited pool of opponents becomes a point of contention.
  4. The All-Time Greats: Dana White acknowledges that Khabib is undeniably one of the all-time greats. His dominance, grappling prowess, and mental fortitude are beyond reproach. However, the GOAT conversation involves competing against legends like Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, and Georges St-Pierre. Khabib’s legacy, while remarkable, doesn’t quite match the storied careers of these icons.

“I think Khabib had the potential to be in the running for [greatest of all time]. He just didn’t stick around long enough. First of all, he had injuries that [delayed his career]. He should have been where he got a lot sooner had he not had the injured and the setbacks in his career. But there’s no doubt Khabib is one of the all time greats.”

In summary, Khabib Nurmagomedov had the potential to ascend to GOAT status, but circumstances—both within and beyond the cage—prevented him from fully realizing that potential. His legacy remains awe-inspiring, but the title of MMA’s GOAT continues to be a fiercely debated honor, with Khabib narrowly missing out.

As fans, we can appreciate ‘The Eagle’ for what he achieved and wonder what might have been if he had stayed a little longer in the octagon. Perhaps the true measure of greatness lies not only in titles and records but also in the impact a fighter leaves on the hearts of fans worldwide.

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