If Khabib Nurmagomedov is the greatest lightweight fighter of all-time then who is in second place?
According to Khabib the answer is ‘The Prodigy,’ BJ Penn.
“I think the impersonation of the lightweight division was BJ Penn for a long time,” Khabib said recently at a press conference. “I can explain… Despite many defeats (towards the end of his career), he won the lightweight title, defended it and also moved up to welterweight and won the belt there. Then he had lost to one of the best fighters ever, Georges St-Pierre. So for me, BJ Penn, I think we can put him there.”
Penn has since responded by giving his take on Khabib’s career, while suggesting that there’s still a case to be made that Khabib isn’t necessarily the lightweight G.O.A.T.
“I enjoy watching Khabib fight, I can not see Khabib saying he is #1 of lightweight of all time because that does not seem like his style,” Penn said on social media.
“I will give my opinion on what I thought of Kabibs career.
“Me khabib and Benson all had 3 title defenses. Me and Kabib had 3 finishes in the 3 title defenses. I did finish Joe Stevenson to win the Ufc lightweight belt and Kabib won unanimous decision over Iaquinta to win the lightweight belt. That’s 4 finishes me and 3 finishes him in title fights.
“These are just numbers not important to fighting. I do feel that it is the champions duty to the sport and fellow fighters to make sure the next world champion is the greatest world champion to step in the ring. I do believe Kabib walked away too early in that respect. There are fighters and sportsmen… All I ever wanted to do was fight, everyone …i was 25 and in my fighting prime when I went up to 170 pounds and won the belt from Matt Hughes.
“I can not blame Khabib for not going up and fighting Usman for the belt and then sparking a greater conversation of who was the best of the two fighters who won the 170 and 155 belts? The fighters today get fame and don’t want to lose.
“I will fight anytime until the day I die… I went to Japan and Hawaii and fought in K-1 and Rumble on the rock at 170, 185, and heavyweight. After years of fighting top fighters and champions I went back to the UFC and took the lightweight belt and the rest is MMA history.
“I don’t know who is the GOAT lightweight 🤔…I was just here to fight.”
Penn’s response provoked a comment from one of his former title challengers, Diego Sanchez, who passionately made his case that the Hawaiian star was the cream of the crop at 155lbs.
“The guy I fought Dec. 12, 2009, was the most in shape, most motivated BJ Penn and was a true GOAT of the industry that defended his title and licked my blood off of his gloves like a savage Hawaiian King reincarnate,” Sanchez said.
“That BJ could have beat any of the greats: GSP, Khabib, Anderson Silva and Conor (McGregor) as well would have fallen to BJ’s supreme BJJ and ‘Prodigy’ athleticism, timing, and reflexes! He still is the GOAT even if he ghosts me?”