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Fresh from outclassing Conor McGregor and then almost causing a full scale riot within the T-Mobile Arena at UFC 229, seemingly fearless Khabib Nurmagomedov has now turned his attention to undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather, challenging the 41 year old to a boxing bout. With both men undefeated in their respective sports, Khabib clearly feels he has the skills to topple one of Boxing's greatest, a feat McGregor failed to accomplish in his multi-million pound attempt in August of 2017.
The Russian wrestling machine easily overpowered his Irish counterpart at the most recent UFC spectacle, managing to impose his heavily ground grapple-based style upon him from the initial bell. Though, to his credit McGregor defended somewhat, he appeared to have under-estimated his opponent given the relentless and arrogant jaw-jacking in the build up, and potentially felt the effects of not having fought competitively in the octagon for almost 2 years. Nevertheless, the championship was retained, with McGregor tapping out in the fourth round due to a tightly clenched neck crank maneouver. Despite it being common knowledge about the extensive wrestling skills that Nurmagomedov possessed prior to the fight, his brief spells spent on his feet trading punches with the Irishman impressed those who may have believed that it could have been a fundamental flaw. It was almost disturbing how unfazed he was, toe to toe with one of the best strikers in the business, nonchalantly beckoning McGregor forward to engage in his preferred type of fight. The Russian would come out on top ultimately in these duels too, epitomised by a spectacular over-the-top right which brought McGregor crashing down to the canvas, although only for a second. These moments, undoubtedly coupled with the Nevada State Athletics Commission's pending investigation into the Russian's conduct after the fight, have contributed to this latest development involving Mayweather.
Khabib is clearly red-hot at the moment and is capitalising on the spotlight being on him by making such an outlandish challenge. It could also hint at the punishment potentially coming his way. Perhaps he has been made aware of an incoming lengthy suspension and so has released this statement as part of a contingency plan if he is banned from competing in the UFC for a period of time. It could also be the plan if he keeps his promise to quit the UFC if the company decides to fire compatriot Zubaira Tukhugov for his actions in the chaotic melee that erupted after the main event.
Though I doubt any potential fight between the two would come close to generating the same attention or financial profits that McGregor's bout did, it would almost definitely be one of Khabib's biggest pay days as well. If he were to negotiate a deal, something I find highly unlikely given that Mayweather simply doesn't need to fight the Russian, it would be a terrific achievement. Not only would it further draw attention to the Nurmagomedov brand, it would simultaneously deflect from his post-fight antics at UFC 229. It would also potentially restore the traits that many observers have become accustom to assigning to him such as his focus on honour and respect against his competitors. By standing opposite Floyd Mayweather, he is still far from being the most controversial of the pair once more, the position he had leading up to his fight against McGregor. In doing so, he would naturally assume the good guy role once more and help to eliminate the negativity attached to him after UFC 229.
More than anything, the latest comments made by Khabib Nurmagomedov appear to be a strategic maneouver in his quest to be the new poster boy of the UFC brand. He is fully aware that emotions overcame him once he had won his battle with Conor McGregor, consequently throwing his positive perception into doubt amongst fans and maybe more importantly, board members within the company. Therefore, with the world still watching the dust settle from the events of the recent pay per view, he has sent out a challenge to another Sport's most prized fighter who, in addition to being undefeated, is just as arrogant as his latest victim. By doing so, Nurmagomedov will attempt to wrestle back his good boy image, however by simply using his hands against a 50-0 Boxing icon. The first battle though is to secure it.