With Khabib Nurmagomedov set to make his return sometime in early 2015, the lightweight contender continues to hurl verbal shots at UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis. Sure the latter is scheduled to fight one of the planet’s best fighters in Gilbert Melendez on December 6th, but evidently Nurmagomedov thinks Pettis will still be holding the lightweight strap next year.
Since Nurmagomedov went down with a knee injury, and wasn’t able to fight Donald Cerrone at UFC 178, the ridiculously talented grappler has been campaigning hard for a title shot. “The Eagle” has pointed to the fact that he’s gone 6-0 in the UFC to date, while arguing that his style and skillset plays right into the weaknesses of Pettis.
In a recent interview with MMA Junkie.com, made these arguments once again, but the 26 year-old also stepped up the trash talk.
Here is some of what the undefeated lightweight had to say about “Showtime”:
“Anthony Pettis is a pretty boy,” Nurmagomedov said. “He’s a playboy. He’s very beautiful and he’s good to market. But the real champion is Khabib Nurmagomedov. Everybody knows. I sent him the message on Twitter. He didn’t give an answer. I see he’s scared. He only likes striking guys. He doesn’t like wrestling guys who are aggressive with top control. I deserve my title shot; give me my title shot.”
“He’s the champion, but he’s not a true champion,” Nurmagomedov said. “He hasn’t had a defense in one-and-a-half years. He has no defense of the belt. He won the belt, yes, but he’s a paper champion. I think he’s a paper champion. Everyone knows I am the true champion. The next fight, I deserve a title shot. This belt is mine. If UFC says I have a title shot, it will be very good for me. It’s my big dream.”
There’s the ‘Pettis doesn’t fight enough’ criticism again, but how about the “pretty boy” shot? While Pettis is far more than just a highlight reel striker, just ask Benson Henderson, it would be interesting to see if the champ can shut down Nurmagomedov’s grappling and top game. So far in the UFC, no one really has been able to.
Nurmagomedov also reportedly relayed that he believes Pettis will defeat Melendez at UFC 181, but if he’s wrong, not surprisingly, he’s down for a fight with “El Nino.”
The Dagestan fighter is certainly doing his part to lock up a title shot in his return, but it still remains to be seen if the UFC actually goes in that direction. It could depend on how Pettis-Melendez plays out, and whether Donald Cerrone gets another big win under his belt in the meantime.
UFC 181 will be hosted by the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and will also feature welterweight champ Johny Hendricks taking on Robbie Lawler.