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411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Is Khabib Nurmagomedov the Next Lightweight Champ?

January 3, 2018 | Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez
UFC 223 Khabib Nurmagomedov Khabib Nurmagomedov's

Welcome back to another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! I’m your host, Lorenzo Vasquez III, and it is my pleasure to bring you some 411 Fact or Fiction MMA. I hope you enjoyed your holiday season and kicked in the new year with heaps of resolutions. By the way, thank you for your votes and comments the last time around. I appreciate it and I encourage you to vote and leave your comments this week. In the last edition of Fact or Fiction MMA, Dino Zee returned to defend his win streak against Wyatt Beougher. As it turned out, ring rust would rear its ugly head. Dino blasted forward but Wyatt was on the defense with solid foot and head movement. They turned in a sound performance over the status of the UFC Welterweight division, Ricardo Lamas losing to an up-and-comer, and Rafael dos Anjos’ new life as a welterweight. When the dust settled, Wyatt stood victoriously and with great pride after dusting through the undefeated, Dino Zee. Congratulations, Wyatt, and thank you both for your efforts and contribution.

This week, Alex Rella will look to knock the boots off the vile, Jeffrey Harris. They will lock horns over Dana White using Mayweather Jr.’s name, Jimmy Smith possibly moving to the UFC, Holly Holm losing to Cris Cyborg, and much more! Grab that grub and make yourself comfortable because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA!

Alex “Little Mac” Rella
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone


Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris
Contributor, Various 411 Zones

Theocratically, Khabib Nurmagomedov will fare better at keeping Tony Fergusson or Conor McGregor down than he did with Edson Barboza.

Alex Rella: FICTION I don’t see this one at all. Barboza is one of the best lightweights in the world, but Ferguson and McGregor are elite fighters on a level above him. Ferguson is world class grappler and submission artist, I actually believe he is better in that area than Khabib. While McGregor isn’t known for grappling, he effectively uses his striking to limit his opponents’ ground game. He actually does a pretty good job while on the ground too in regards to limiting the damage he takes and getting back to his feet. With all due respect to Barboza, I think either fighter will fare better in all aspects against Khabib.

Jeffrey Harris: FICTION Khabib Nurmagomedov isn’t going to do to Tony Ferguson what he did to Edson Barboza. Tony Ferguson is a wrestler, grappler, and submission artist. Edson Barboza is a kickboxer and striker with subpar MMA grappling. Not to mention, Ferguson actually submitted Barboza inside of two rounds, where Nurmagomedov could not. Even if Nurmagomedov puts Ferguson on his back, he will have to think twice if he thinks he will keep him there for five rounds. Tony Ferguson is a cardio machine. Not to mention, he’s very comfortable off his back. He has an active guard, and he finishes people from off his back. For some fighters, Nurmagomedov on top of you is hell. For Ferguson, it will be an opportunity. Ferguson is the best lightweight fighter in the world.

With a lack of true contenders, a rematch between Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg isn’t such a bad idea, whether it’s an immediate rematch or after Cyborg defends her title once more.

Alex Rella:FICTION The UFC is in a tough spot when it comes to booking Cyborg. The women’s featherweight division is one of the shallowest in all of MMA. It also doesn’t help that Bellator has been building up their own division for the past couple years with some pretty good fighters, that includes the clear number 2 in the division – Julia Budd. But Holm is not the answer for right now. She’s 1-4 in her past 5 fights (0-2 at 145 lbs) and clearly lost her fight with Cyborg. It would be smart to build her back up with a few wins before returning to title contention. Rebooking Cyborg against Megan Anderson makes perfect sense and should make for an exciting fight as Anderson has been wrecking some good fighters over in Invicta. The only other experienced featherweight is Germaine De Randamie, hopefully, she changes her stance on fighting Cyborg because they would also have a good fight. I would also like to see Cindy Dandois get another chance in the UFC. She’s undefeated at 145 lbs and has victories over Megan Anderson and Marloes Coenen. There aren’t a lot of options for Cyborg, but I would like to see any of those three fighters get a title shot instead of Holm with Megan Anderson being the most obvious choice at this moment.

Jeffrey Harris: FICTION Let Holly Holm go back to bantamweight if she wants to continue fighting. It makes no sense to book an immediate rematch. The fight was competitive, but it wasn’t a split decision. It makes no sense to book an immediate rematch, and it is a bad idea. But this is why starting a UFC women’s featherweight division just to give Cyborg a belt was a mistake. There isn’t a division to be had. There aren’t enough quality women’s featherweight fighters out there who can compete with Cyborg, a woman who cuts down from 167-170 pounds to get to 145 pounds. Unless someone somehow upsets Cyborg, give her a couple more showcase fights and then dissolve the pointless Cyborg division.

Cris Cyborg looking more technical and composed is scarier now as a fighter than she was some years back.

Alex Rella: FICTION I think she’s a better fighter now, but I still think she was scarier back in Strikeforce/EliteXC. This is purely my opinion, but I thought she was scarier when she was straight up annihilating people in Strikeforce and EliteXC. Most of those fights were just brutal beatings. Though she likely decided to change up her style recently because she is getting a little bit older and went up against higher caliber fighters in her last two fights. Holm is also one of the best in the world and Tonya Evinger hadn’t lost since 2011 and was a really great champion in Invicta. I personally think younger Cyborg is scarier in my opinion, but either version of the fighter is still nearly unstoppable.

Jeffrey Harris: FICTION I wouldn’t say she looked particularly scarier or composed at all. Not to mention, she wasn’t able to crush or bully Holly Holm like she was able to with some of her previous opponents who really weren’t even natural featherweights.


While Holly Holm did not defeat Cris Cyborg, her performance earned her a shot at the women’s bantamweight title.

Jeffrey Harris: FICTION She should at least have to win one more fight before contending for the bantamweight title again. For all we know, the UFC might want to book Amanda Nunes against Cyborg next since there isn’t really a clear-cut contender at the top of bantamweight. However, even a competitive losing effort against Cyborg shouldn’t put her in another title fight. Holly Holm is now 4-4 in the UFC, and she’s 1-3 in UFC title fights. Do we really want to see Holly Holm possibly surpass Urijah Faber’s record for most losses in UFC title fights?

Alex Rella: FICTION As I stated in the previous question, I don’t want to see Holm get another title shot for a while. She’s 1-4 in her past 5 fights and her drawing ability has taken a hit during that time. She’s still one of the best fighters in the world, but she needs to put together a solid winning streak before returning to title contention in either division. This will build her confidence back up and build fans’ interest back up as well. Unfortunately, this is the weakest the division has ever been. If you had to pick someone to challenge for the title, right now it would be either Ketlen Viera or Raquel Pennington when she’s healed up.

You’re hoping and begging the MMA Gods that Jimmy Smith lands a spot on the UFC commentary table for major events and perhaps replaces Joe Rogan.

Jeffrey Harris: FICTION Not at all. I like Jimmy Smith, but I don’t think he’s so fantastic that he needs to replace Joe Rogan in the UFC. Joe Rogan’s workload is already sort of limited at this point anyway, and he’s clearly winding down. He’s only doing US UFC pay-per-view events right now. So hoping and begging for Jimmy Smith in the UFC? No, not a chance in hell. I’d much rather have any of these personalities on the commentary team over Jimmy Smith: Todd Harris, Jens Pulver, Miesha Tate, and Brian Stann. Now would I hope and beg for any of those men on commentary in the UFC? Not really, but I think they all do a better job as analysts and were very good in the past. Brian Stann was one of UFC’s best color analysts ever, and I’m sad he doesn’t have the gig anymore. But such is life.

Alex Rella: FACT Jimmy Smith has become the best MMA commentator in recent years. He’s knowledgeable, stays on topic, and knows when to take a breath and not talk too much. I was actually upset when I heard he was leaving Bellator. It was a poor decision on their part to let him go and I hope he replaces anyone over in the UFC at this point. Their commentary has reached an all-time low this past year. I was never one to complain too much about UFC commentary, but there are times when they are overbearing and unbearable to listen to. Jimmy Smith is an upgrade to any commentary team, especially in the UFC. I hope he returns soon to call fights.

As Mayweather Jr. claims, Dana White has only been using his name to boost the UFC’s value as look for a new television deal.

Jeffrey Harris: FACT I think that’s most likely the case. There’s no way Mayweather at 40 years old and 50-0 in boxing is going to try a hand in MMA. Dana White doing it makes headlines. And it almost sounds possible when he says, “McGregor vs. Mayweather happened and no one ever thought it would.” Even Brock Lesnar made a shocking short-term return to the UFC. It’s still not going to happen though Dana. I don’t mind Dana White doing it. It’s just a gag to get headlines and promotion. And you know what? It worked. White baited the media and the media bit. So, mission accomplished. He’s a fight promoter and trying to sell the product, whether he’s working the fans or not. Fighters do this too, whether it’s a Mayweather, McGregor, or even Chael Sonnen.

Alex Rella: FICTION One of the two of them has been lying, but it’s hard to say which one it is. Mayweather likes to stir the pot to stay relevant and it’s hard to take White seriously at times. I could easily see either one throwing out false information or leading the other on. For that reason, I go with fiction. If Mayweather were to sign with the UFC in some crazy hypothetical world, I also don’t see him having a large impact on the UFC’s future television deals. It’s obvious that they would put him on pay per view to make the most money and he wouldn’t cause a rise in UFC popularity long term. Mayweather would bring in boxing fans or casual fans, but neither is likely to watch follow up events where he isn’t fighting.

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And that’s it for today but, as always, we’ll be back next week with another contest! And please, be sure to vote!

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