Count Robert Whittaker amongst those who rank Khabib Nurmagomedov as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all time.
Whittaker, who beat Jared Cannonier in the UFC 254 co-main event, joked about not wanting to fight Nurmagomedov despite being two weight classes heavier than him, hailing the undefeated Dagestani a ‘phenomenal’ fighter following his latest submission victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
“He’s just a freak, isn’t he? Good gosh, he is so good,” Whittaker told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani (h/t Abhinav Kini of The Body Lock). “He made one of the best dudes in the world look not like one of the best dudes in the world.
“It’s phenomenal. I’ll tell you right now — I wouldn’t want to take a fight with him [laughs]. I’m much bigger than he is…he’s a scary dude.”
When it comes to the pound-for-pound debate and recently updated UFC rankings, Whittaker believes Khabib has a better claim to the throne than Jon Jones, who is livid that Nurmagomedov is ranked ahead of him.
“I like Jon, I do. I think even Jon would say … maybe not [laughs]. I don’t know, Khabib’s been flawless,” Whittaker added. “He’s had a flawless run and he’s had no hiccups. He’s had no obstacles. He’s made every fight look easy.
“I think Khabib has done something special, like there wasn’t a single person that Khabib went up against that people were like, ‘aw, he might get him.’ Everyone has always been like he’s going to maul this dude.”
Nurmagomedov retired in the octagon following his win over Gaethje and said it would be impossible to train without his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who passed away earlier this year.