Khabib Nurmagomedov Decimates Edson Barboza, Calls for Tony Ferguson Next

Khabib Nurmagomedov has earned his spot as the top lightweight contender in the world

Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially solidified his place as the No. 1 contender in the UFC lightweight division.

After a year off and a weight cutting disaster that stopped him from fighting in March, Nurmagomedov returned on Saturday night and put on arguably his best performance to date as he absolutely mauled noted knockout artist Edson Barboza over three rounds at UFC 219.

Barboza showed no fear throwing kicks as the fight got underway, cracking Nurmagomedov with several hard shots to the inside of his lead leg. Barboza did a good job avoiding the forward pressure from Nurmagomedov as he was in constant pursuit, chasing him around the Octagon.

Despite a good start, Barboza couldn’t stop Nurmagomedov’s takedowns as the Russian kept coming after him until he finally took the fight to the ground.

From there it was all Nurmagomedov as he absolutely mauled Barboza on the ground, blasting away from the top with blistering punches that absolutely battered the Brazilian contender.

Barboza survived but that’s about all he was able to muster as Nurmagomedov just dominated him throughout the latter half of the round.

As the horn sounded, Barboza sat on his knees as his coaches rushed in with the stool to assist him to the corner after eating a barrage of shots from Nurmagomedov.

The second round didn’t get much better although Barboza did manage to hit Nurmagomedov with a couple of hard kicks but it wasn’t nearly enough to deter the undefeated Russian from coming after him with absolute aggression.

Nurmagomedov finally landed at takedown about midway through the round and he once again punished Barboza with a relentless attack from the top. As the blood continued to trickle across Barboza’s face, Nurmagomedov just continued to punch him that much harder as he looked for the stoppage.

Somehow, Barboza made it to the final round but it was only a moral victory because Nurmagomedov made him pay for every second he was still in the fight.

With just over two minutes to go, Barboza did uncork a pair of his famous spinning roundhouse kicks, one of which did manage to connect but like a robot hell bent on destruction, Nurmagomedov just walked through it and kept moving forward.

Nurmagomedov took Barboza to the ground yet again, holding onto his leg and just firing away with punches while dragging him back to the mat at the same time. Still, Barboza stuck around to the very end but it was clear that Nurmagomedov was going to stay undefeated with another lopsided victory to add onto his resume.

The judges scored the fight 30-25, 30-25, and 30-24 all in favor of Nurmagomedov.

“I don’t think about these two bullshit guys,” Nurmagomedov said about current lightweight champion Conor McGregor and interim champion Tony Ferguson. “I think about only me. If the UFC tell me ‘hey what do you want?’ I’m going to say Tony Ferguson. Because he has 10 [fight] win streak at lightweight, I’m 25 win streak, I’m undefeated my entire career.

“Tony Ferguson but about Conor I do not think. He’s got a lot of money, now he has to spend this money, after this money is finished I think he’s going to come back.”

UFC president Dana White mentioned earlier this week that the winner of this fight may face Ferguson to determine who will eventually welcome McGregor back to the Octagon. By all accounts, Nurmagomedov has certainly solidified his place as the No. 1 title contender no matter who he faces next.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.
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