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In a recent interview with ESPN, Nurmagomedov — although he’s impressed with the current 11-fight win streak “Du Bronx” is on — feels that Oliveira still needs to beat the likes of Islam Makhachev, Beneil Dariush, and “a couple more guys” before comparisons begin.
Terrance McKinney, who is scheduled to face Erick Gonzalez at the UFC’s Aug. 6 event, feels that Oliveira has a much better case than Nurmagomedov gives him credit for, if he hasn’t surpassed him already.
Has Charles Oliveira already surpassed Khabib Nurmagomedov as the greatest lightweight of all time?@twrecks155 joined @MikeHeck_JR on #BetweenTheLinks to explain why “Charles is about to be the GOAT.”
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) May 19, 2022
“I think he’s wrong. I think Charles is better in my opinion,” McKinney said on Between the Links. “He throws hands. He’s been finishing everyone. He’s not just on [a long winning] streak, he’s finishing people. A lot of Khabib’s fights were decisions and he didn’t start finishing people until the end.”
Oliveira won the lightweight title a little over a year ago at UFC 262 when he stopped Michael Chandler in the second round, before going on to submit Dustin Poirier in the third round of his first title defense in December at UFC 269.
Earlier this month, the 32-year-old was scheduled to defend his title for the second time against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274. While the fight went on, Oliveira wasn’t able to leave Phoenix as the champion after missing weight by 0.5 pounds, although Oliveira did finish Gaethje in the opening round via rear-naked choke.
In McKinney’s eyes, the strength of schedule, along with the entertainment factor Oliveira brings to all of his fights puts him over the top.
“He did great, he was undefeated, but Charles, to me, is about to be the GOAT of our weight class,” McKinney said. “That’s my opinion, because he can strike, he can grapple, and he’s just really shown what a champion is — all of his fights have been entertaining, I haven’t seen one boring fight from him. And I can name a couple of boring fights that I’ve seen from Khabib. He is right, they’re not in the same playing field. [Oliveira is] 100 percent better.”
Nurmagomedov ended his career with a perfect 29-0 record after submitting Gaethje at UFC 254 in October 2020. After winning the vacant title against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223, Nurmagomedov finished his last three opponents, which also included Poirier and Conor McGregor.
While it seems like a Nurmagomedov return may be unlikely, many believe that if Oliveira faces Makhachev for the vacant title and comes away victorious, perhaps that would be enough motivation for “The Eagle” to fly inside the octagon once more. If that were to happen, McKinney would put his money on Oliveira to change Nurmagomedov’s legendary record to 29-1.
“[I would pick] Charles,” McKinney said.