Khabib Nurmagomedov is the only man to beat lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos in the last four years. The two have unfinished business. Despite that, however, dos Anjos doesn't believe 'The Eagle' is deserving of a title shot.
Nurmagomedov, who is undefeated with a 23-0 record, was almost forced to retire from the sport after a series of injuries sidelined him from competition. After a two-year hiatus, the Dagestani returned to the Octagon at UFC on FOX 19, TKO'ing 28-year-old Darrell Horcher in the second round to continue his winning streak.
Dos Anjos, who has looked unstoppable since seizing the 155-pound belt from Anthony Pettis in 2015, wasn't impressed with Nurmagomedov's win and says he needs to make a bigger statement to be considered for a title shot.
"I think to get a title shot you need to have some expressive winnings," Dos Anjos told MMA Junkie ahead of his championship clash with Eddie Alvarez at UFC Fight Night 90. "[We're] talking about a fight for a world title.
"His last fight was against a guy with a full-time job, and I beat Diaz, Pettis, Ben Henderson, Cerrone, and I earned it. I earned my title. You can't just beat a guy that went there just to cover some guy that got an injury and then this guy, after two-and-a-half years, get a title shot."
The Brazilian had high praise for title challenger Alvarez, who was a two-time Bellator LW champion before joining the UFC.
"[Alvarez is] a guy that earned it," dos Anjos said. "He beat two former world champions. He beat Anthony Pettis. He beat Melendez. [Nurmagomedov] beat one guy with a full-time job."
Another prospect glowing on Dos Anjos' radar is Tony Ferguson, who was supposed to welcome Nurmagomedov back to the cage before pulling out with a lung infection. 'El Cucuy' has been on a tear since 2013, rattling off wins over the likes of Josh Thompson, Abel Trujillo and Edson Barboza.
Ferguson will take on Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Night 91, and if successful, Dos Anjos believes The Ultimate Fighter season three winner should be next in line for a title shot.
"I think Ferguson's the guy. He's fighting Michael Chiesa now, probably will be the next contender."
Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez takes place at UFC Fight Night 90 on July 7 while Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Chiesa will headline the following UFC Fight Night event on July 31 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.