Less than two weeks have passed since the victory of Khabib Nurmagomedov over Dustin Porye in the fight for the UFC lightweight champion title, and the next Russian rival is already being discussed in full swing in the martial arts world. According to the head of promotion Dana White, they should be Tony Ferguson. Now he has won a series of 12 fights, and at the same time a protracted, active conflict with the owner of the belt. However, even such statements by the UFC president do not prevent the Dagestani supporters from lobbying for his fight with the legendary Georges Saint-Pierre.
Talk about the duel between Nurmagomedov and Saint-Pierre began to circulate actively in the media in the fall of 2018 - after defeating Conor McGregor at UFC 229. Russian manager Ali Abdel-Aziz repeatedly stated the desire of both athletes to meet in the octagon, and the fighters themselves never hid interest in this fight. Both Khabib and Georges, who admitted that he was personally negotiating with Dana White, confirmed their intentions. But the UFC president was implacable and did not agree to give permission for the fight.
Apparently, in conversations on this subject, you can put an end to. During the week, Saint-Pierre was once again asked whether he should expect a meeting with Nurmagomedov in the near future, but he said that he was not going to return to the octagon. The athlete said that he had completed his career and did not intend to put on gloves again.
Nurmagomedov’s interest in the duel with Saint-Pierre is explained both financially and from a sporting point of view. At one time, the Canadian was the main star of the promotion, and tournaments with his participation showed extremely high ratings at that time. Three such shows are still in the top 20 in terms of the number of pay-per-view (PPV) sales. And this taking into account the fact that his fight with Nick Diaz took place in 2013, and with BJ Penn in 2009, and then mixed martial arts were not yet so popular.
We should also mention the UFC 100 tournament, in which Saint-Pierre played in the second most important battle. Of course, the anniversary show turned out to be incredibly impressive in terms of card and is still considered one of the greatest promotions in the history, but the Canadian could well end up in the main battle. Two factors played against him: the popularity of the former WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar, as well as the outdated worldviews of match makers. Then it was believed that a fight in a heavier weight category should certainly be higher in the program. Because of this, the welterweight champion was doubly difficult to fight with the heavyweight.
But if Saint-Pierre lost to Lesnar in the number of PPV purchases, then in terms of ticket sales he easily circumvented it. This is evidenced by the fact that his fights with Jake Shields at the UFC 129 tournament and with Josh Koschek at UFC 124 are still among the five leaders in attendance in the history of the promotion. Moreover, the first of them had 55,724 spectators, which is second only to the landmark show in Australia with the participation of Ronda Rosie and Holly Holm (56 124).
Thus, the duel between Nurmagomedov and Saint-Pierre with 100 percent probability would become one of the main and discussed events of the year in the UFC. Of course, due to the mutual respect and reluctance of both athletes to become personal, the atmosphere would hardly have been as intense as before the fight with McGregor, but interest in him would hardly have fallen. Full-time confrontation would be very beneficial for athletes and, quite possibly, would help them earn their record fees.
Before the tournament in Abu Dhabi, there was information that Nurmagomedov’s guaranteed fee for him amounted to $ 6 million. For a battle with one of the greatest MMA legends, he would be guaranteed to get more. As for St. Pierre, at the peak of his career, UFC champions did not receive more than $ 800 thousand for a performance, and he hit the biggest jackpot for a fight with Bisping - $ 2.5 million.
In terms of the sports component, a fight with Saint-Pierre would primarily benefit the legacy of Nurmagomedov. Georges is rightfully considered one of the greatest representatives of mixed martial arts in history. This perfectly confirms not only interest in his person, but also statistical facts. So, the Canadian is one of the seven UFC fighters who had titles in two weight categories. He takes third place in the number of consecutive belt defenses (9), second only to Anderson Silva (10) and Demetrius Johnson (11) in this indicator, as well as in the length of the winning streak (13).
In addition, throughout his career, Saint-Pierre was considered one of the most dominant champions and was famous primarily for wrestling skills. So, he preferred to transfer people to the flooring, after which he drove them into canvas for a long time. In this regard, he and Nurmagomedov are quite similar, except that Georges concentrated on strokes, and Habib - on control and painful techniques.
As a result, the duel between Nurmagomedov and Saint-Pierre would be of interest in all possible indicators, and at his stake could well be the title of the best grappler in the history of MMA. But despite all the possible advantages, Georges made the absolutely right decision, refusing to fight with Habib.
For 15 years in MMA, Saint-Pierre managed to conquer all possible heights, and the next victory is unlikely to bring him even more glory. In this case, a defeat from Nurmagomedov will be a serious blow to his legacy, and possibly the health of the athlete. Yes, he may become the first ever champion in three divisions in the history of the UFC, but given the current state of affairs, these prospects seem more than vague.
Firstly, Saint-Pierre is no longer young. In May, he celebrated his 38th birthday, and this is an extremely serious age for representatives of medium and light weight categories. Already in the battle with Michael Bisping, it was noticeable that he had lost his former harshness, and in the battle with Nurmagomedov this could be of key importance. The Canadian initially finds himself in a losing situation and is obliged to fight not only with his opponent, but also with himself.
Secondly, Nurmagomedov excludes any opportunity to meet with Saint-Pierre in a heavier weight category. Therefore, Georges will have to meet the limit of the lightweight division (70 kg) for the first time in his career, and this is taking into account the fact that he had never previously dropped below the welterweight mark (77 kg), and the last fight did take place on average (84 kg). It is not known whether the age athlete is able to cope with such a grueling weightlifter, and how he will look in the octagon after it. In any case, Habib again gets an additional advantage and minimizes the chances of success of his counterpart.
Thirdly, both athletes act in approximately the same style, but the difference in age again plays to the benefit of Nurmagomedov. At the moment, he is clearly superior to St. Pierre in stamina, and in the fight this is one of the key aspects. Undoubtedly, Georges continues to maintain excellent shape and regularly trains, but the years take their toll. Whether he will be able to withstand the fight at the pace of light weight, and even after the most difficult weight loss in his career, is a very big question.
In light of all this, Saint-Pierre made the absolutely right decision. He has already proved everything to everyone and is rightfully one of the greatest MMA fighters in history. Unlike many colleagues in the workshop, he managed to stop in time and hang gloves on a nail instead of delighting the evil-doers with his failures. In this regard, it is enough to look at the second-ever champion in two Penn divisions. He was considered one of the best athletes in history, but failed to stop in time and suffered seven defeats in a row. The culmination of his failures was the recent fight in the bar, which ended for BJ with a severe knockout.