The Last Emperor may have entered the twilight years of his own stellar athletic career with a string of rather brutal defeats, but make no mistake, there are few, if any, who would challenge his spot amongst the greatest fighters to ever do it.
Fedor’s status in his home-country of Russia is that of a bonafide legend and while his legendary run as the champion of the PRIDE heavyweight division has singled him out amongst his compatriots in the same field, there is the sense that one man, in particular, is in the process of reaching a new level entirely.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, though certainly trailing Fedor in terms of time spent at the very top, has managed to find a level of dominance within the octagon that has never been matched.
His style of offensive grappling is so difficult to offset, that up until this point, just one man – Conor McGregor – has been able to officially win a round against Nurmagomedov in the UFC.
And while Khabib’s remaining time in the sport is limited – if he can remain as thoroughly dominant and impressive as he has been up until this point, there is a very strong argument to be made about his status as the greatest lightweight of all-time.
Of course, much of that debate will rest on the outcome of his UFC 249 showdown against Tony Ferguson – a fight that is being cited as one of the most intriguing stylistic clashes in the history of the sport.
Emelianenko gave his take on the UFC lightweight king during a recent interview and expressed his admiration for his fighting style.
Speaking during a recent chat with Russian outlet tass.ru, the former PRIDE heavyweight king gave praise to his countrymen while also offering up some constructive criticism ahead of the future.
“Khabib has found his style, wins by using his strengths. That’s good because he is a UFC champion and uses his strengths. In these elements, he stands above his rivals.
“However, Khabib must, of course, patch the gaps in his technique. For example, in the technique of punches and kicks. But he also does everything right. He also has time to polish these techniques to become even better.”
Nurmagomedov’s popularity well and truly skyrocketed as a result of his part in the still-growing rivalry that exists between him and the sport’s biggest superstar Conor McGregor.
A second fight between the two seems like an inevitability at this point and with that fight in a constant state of escalation, a matchup with Ferguson in April, and the possibilities of many other super-fights and marquee matchups on the horizon, the tail end of Khabib’s career promises to be something completely and utterly special.
It all kicks off on April 18, where the MMA world will collectively be praying that the fifth time is the charm as the champ defends his title against the aforementioned Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson.