Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.
No. 4 ranked lightweight Edson Barboza asked for a fight against No. 2 ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov. The UFC granted him the request and the two met in Saturday’s UFC 219 co-main event and Nurmagomedov slaughtered Barboza.
Barboza landed leg kicks and kicks to the body in the early going of the opening round but soon found himself in the clutches of “The Eagle.” Once Nurmagomedov had Barboza gounded he unleashed an onslaught of punches and elbows. He moved to side control and then to the mount position. At the end of the first round Barboza was cut on the bridge of his nose and slow to get back to his feet.
Nurmagomedov pressured Barboza the entire fight and didn’t allow the dangerous striker any space to employ his striking game. It wasn’t long before Barboza found himself on the bottom of Nurmagomedov in the second frame. Nurmagomedov did what he did in the first round; he delivered heavy punches and elbows.
In the final round, Barboza defended an early takedown attempt by Nurmagomedov. He partially landed a wheel kick, but Nurmagomedov changed levels and took him down. He delivered a series of left hands. It was a one-sided fight and the judges scored it that way. The judges scored the bout 30-25, 30-25, and 30-24 for “The Eagle.”
“25-0. Without injury I can fight with anybody. If you give me one-hour rest I can fight one more time with Conor (McGregor) or Tony (Ferguson). No problem. I feel great,” he said after the dominant win.
It had been 13 months since Nurmagomedov fought before Saturday. After the fight he said that he could have finished Barboza but wanted to go the distance.
“I could have finished him but I wanted to go all 15 minutes because my last fight was a year ago,” he said.
With the dominant win over Barboza, Nurmagomedov solidified his place as the best lightweight in the world without a belt. Conor McGregor holds the 155-pound title and Tony Ferguson is the interim champion. Nurmagomedov said he’d rather face Ferguson than McGregor next.
“I don’t think about those two bulls–t guys. I think about only me,” he said. “I’m going to say Tony Ferguson because he has ten wins at lightweight. I’m 25 wins in my career. About Conor, I don’t think because he has a lot of money now. He has to spend this money. After, when money is finished, I think he’s going to come back.”