If you haven’t taken notice of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC run so far, it may be time to start tuning in, as the rising lightweight has gone 4-0 in the Octagon and appears headed to big things with the promotion. If you feel like watching a takedown and grappling clinic, cue up his recent unanimous decision win over Abel Trujillo.
While Nurmagomedov has impressed thus far, and carries a record of 20-0 at the young age of 24, he has yet to defeat a really big name or a top ten fighter. This is why the decorated sambo competitor recently asked to fight BJ Penn–if he in fact returns to action–and why in a recent interview with the UFC he challenged TJ Grant.
“I have asked for a fight with BJ Penn but I have not received a response,” he said. “Perhaps they have different plans for him. I wanted to fight someone I watched on TV when I was younger. He is a legend.”
“If BJ is not available I would love to fight (TJ) Grant,” said Nurmagomedov, who has also defeated Gleison Tibau, Kamal Shalorus, and Thiago Alves since arriving in the UFC. “If he feels that he is the next title contender let him prove it by beating me at UFC 165 (September 21) in his homeland.”
Although Penn is reportedly considering a comeback at lightweight, one would think the legend would be looking to battle more established vets, but this is a man who just fought rising welterweight Rory MacDonald.
As far as Grant, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be ready to fight in September, as he’s still recovering from the concussion that pulled him from his August 31st title fight with Benson Henderson. In addition, Grant will likely face a top ten fighter next, considering his own contender status.
It will be interesting to see who the UFC books to fight Nurmagomedov, however, and how he performs against some of the division’s top contenders.