Khabib Nurmagomedov has looked virtually unstoppable throughout most of his career, but former UFC title challenger turned ESPN analyst and podcast host Chael Sonnen believes everyone could be overlooking Dustin Poirier ahead of UFC 242.
On a recent episode of Beyond the Fight, Sonnen was keen to remind the MMA sphere that no one is unbeatable, not even Nurmagomedov.
The 42-year-old cited the likes of Mike Tyson, Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva as formerly unbeaten fighters who, despite their air of invincibility, eventually succumbed to defeat.
“He’s been out for a while,” Sonnen said of Nurmagomedov. “For Khabib, it was because of a suspension. For other guys, it was because of an injury or a contract dispute. But that always becomes a talking point; ‘well how’s he gonna look, he’s been out, the other guy’s been busy, ring rust is a real thing’. For some reason, Khabib has penetrated the hearts and minds of the fans to the point that that dialogue is not even coming up. It’s as if this guy is bulletproof and we have fallen for that before.”
“I could give you the Mike Tysons of the world, the night George St-Pierre fell down, Anderson Silva comes to mind. Nobody is bulletproof.”
“I don’t know why Khabib is bulletproof to that because a lot of those similarities are there,” Sonnen continued. “He’s all of a sudden ‘Mr. Famous’. He’s so famous that he’s got political pole in that region (Dagestan.) He’s training at the AKA with Javier Mendez but he lives in Dagestan, 21 hours away. I do think it’s a fair question, how much consistent training is he getting in conjunction with the push and pull of travel schedules, with the media, with all the new ‘friends’ he’s got, all the way up to politicians? I am surprised no one’s talking about it!”
Khabib, the reigning lightweight champ, is scheduled to take on interim titleholder Poirier in a headlining title unification bout at UFC 242. The highly anticipated pay-per-view takes place this Saturday, Sept. 7 at du Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.