If Khabib Nurmagomedov wasn’t around, who would he consider the greatest lightweight fighter of all time?
Simple — UFC Hall-of-Famer B.J. Penn.
Nurmagomedov might be the current lightweight GOAT but he considers Penn a legend and pioneer of the sport who ranks among some of the greatest champions in UFC history.
“I think the impersonation of the lightweight division was BJ Penn for a long time,” Khabib said at a recent press conference (h/t BJPenn.com). “I can explain… Despite many defeats (towards the end of his career), he won the lightweight title, defended it and also moved up to welterweight and won the belt there. Then he had lost to one of the best fighters ever, Georges St-Pierre. So for me, BJ Penn, I think we can put him there.”
‘The Prodigy’ ruled the lightweight throne from 2008-2010 before being usurped by Frankie Edgar at UFC 112. He also won the welterweight title with a first-round submission win over fellow Hall-of-Famer Matt Hughes in his welterweight debut at UFC 46.
Penn was released from the UFC in 2019 following a slew of losses in the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions. The Hawaiian hasn’t fought since, although he has expressed interest in a boxing match against 4-0 YouTube boxer Jake Paul.
Khabib (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC) is currently retired. The Dagestani vacated the lightweight title following a second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.