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UFC's Kamaru Usman Discusses Hypothetical Charles Oliveira vs. Khabib Fight

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 19, 2021

Russian UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov gestures to the crowd during an open training session at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Fighters Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov will face each other in UFC 242, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Abu Dhabi. Nurmagomedov did not spar during the open training, saying he was still trying to make weight for the bout. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
AP Photo/Jon Gambrell

Kamaru Usman expressed his belief Tuesday that Khabib Nurmagomedov won't be compelled to come out of retirement and challenge Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title.

Speaking to TMZ Sports, Usman said: "I think Khabib did watch the fight. Was he intrigued? 'Yes, I wanna get back in there.' Probably not. I mean, he's a man that's happy. He's happy with his life. He's happy with the direction that it's going, and yeah, I think he's retired."

Oliveira won the title vacated by Khabib on Saturday when he beat Michael Chandler in the main event of UFC 262 by second-round technical knockout.

The 32-year-old Khabib retired in October with a career record of 29-0. After beating Justin Gaethje by second-round submission, Khabib cited his father's death and his mother's desire for him to no longer fight as reasons why he was stepping away.

UFC President Dana White subsequently met with Khabib and tried to get him to come out of retirement, but White conceded in March that Nurmagomedov was remaining retired.

Usman, who is 19-1 and the UFC welterweight champion, praised Oliveira but also suggested that he isn't on the same level as his friend Khabib: "More power to Charles Olivera. I'm impressed by him and I'm a fan for what he's able to do with his career, but I just think there's levels to the game, and I think Khabib is a different level."

Oliveira, 31, has undoubtedly raised his level of performance in recent years, reeling off nine wins in a row since starting his career 22-8 with one no contest.

With wins over Chandler, Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee in his past three outings, Oliveira has undoubtedly earned the top spot in the lightweight division.

At the same time, Khabib was never beaten for that top spot, which is why observers will likely long clamor for Nurmagomedov to return and attempt to reclaim his position as the face of the lightweight division.

Assuming that doesn't happen any time soon, Oliveira's next sensible opponent may be Dustin Poirier, who is the No. 1 contender in the UFC lightweight division and coming off a win over Conor McGregor.