Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov / (John Locher/Associated Press)

The UFC‘s lightweight division is an absolute mess ahead of UFC 223‘s Max Holloway vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov bout. With Conor McGregor still sitting as the official lightweight champion, interim champion Tony Ferguson out with a knee injury and the Holloway vs. Nurmagomedov bout set to throw another belt into the equation, things are set to be more confusing than ever.

Nurmagomedov doesn’t care about that, though.

Despite the fact that he may or may not be set to ascend to the UFC‘s lightweight throne, the grappling specialist isn’t looking to wipe out any pretenders to his throne. Speaking to Ariel Helwani on Monday’s installment of The MMA Hour , he said if it were up to him, he’d look to take down another king…all-time great fighter Georges St-Pierre.

“To be honest, I think maybe different. I think about Georges St-Pierre,” he said. “Because he talks about how he can make 155. He already middleweight and welterweight champion. Why not? Why not now for his legacy and my legacy. It’s very important. You know, like, if UFC make this fight for me, not easy fight. For him, not easy fight.”

Nurmagomedov‘s UFC career has been defined by two things to this point: utter dominance in the cage and almost non-stop misfortune outside it.

After amassing a strong five-fight winning streak in his first 18 months with the promotion, Nurmagomedov‘s career went off the rails in 2014 when he withdrew from a scheduled bout with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. That kicked off a series of injuries and weight cutting issues that saw Nurmagomedov fight just four times from 2014 to 2017.

Despite those struggles, he returned from a yearlong layoff in December 2017 by steamrolling veteran striker Edson Barboza. That win re-established him as an elite contender in the cage and reminded fans of his terrifying potential. Meanwhile, an uptick in his trash-talk made him a steady source of headlines and made him one of the all-around most marketable fighters.

While Nurmagomedov doesn’t necessarily care about that and remains exclusively focused on fighting, he knows the UFC brass doesn’t feel the same way. As such, he fully expects the company to push for a bout between himself and McGregor, which he acknowledges isn’t the worst thing in the world.

“To be honest, I think maybe different. I think about Georges St-Pierre,” he said. “Because he talks about how he can make 155. He already middleweight and welterweight champion. Why not? Why not now for his legacy and my legacy. It’s very important. You know, like, if UFC make this fight for me, not easy fight. For him, not easy fight.”

Nurmagomedov’s UFC career has been defined by two things to this point: utter dominance in the cage and almost non-stop misfortune outside it.

After amassing a strong five-fight winning streak in his first 18 months with the promotion, Nurmagomedov’s career went off the rails in 2014 when he withdrew from a scheduled bout with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. That kicked off a series of injuries and weight cutting issues that saw Nurmagomedov fight just four times from 2014 to 2017.

Despite those struggles, he returned from a yearlong layoff in December 2017 by steamrolling veteran striker Edson Barboza. That win re-established him as an elite contender in the cage and reminded fans of his terrifying potential. Meanwhile, an uptick in his trash-talk made him a steady source of headlines and made him one of the all-around most marketable fighters.

While Nurmagomedov doesn’t necessarily care about that and remains exclusively focused on fighting, he knows the UFC brass doesn’t feel the same way. As such, he fully expects the company to push for a bout between himself and McGregor, which he acknowledges isn’t the worst thing in the world.