According to a high-profile American Kickboxing Academy teammate, Charles Oliveira may be the man to bring Khabib Nurmagomedov back to the UFC after his shock retirement at UFC 254. Former Strikeforce Lightweight World Champion and UFC veteran Josh Thomson recently went on an episode of the Weighing In podcast with “Big” John McCarthy and spoke about the potential matchups for Nurmagomedov should he choose to end his retirement early. He made some excellent points as to why he thinks that Oliveira is the fight to make for Nurmagomedov instead of a potential rematch with the winner of the upcoming Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier fight:
“I think that Charles Oliveira sparks Khabib a little bit more than the Conor fight, the Dustin fight, and the Gaethje fight. Fighting one of them again. I think because it’s new blood, and he brings something I’ve said forever. It’s that the guy that’s gonna threaten him the most will be a guy that’s really good on the ground. We haven’t seen a really good guy on the ground like in terms of a Demian Maia until Charles Oliveira.”
This shouldn’t seem like too much of a shocking opinion, considering that Charles Oliveira is just coming off a dominant win against Tony Ferguson at UFC 256, the man everyone thought would be the one to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov in the end. Shortly after his stunning victory, Oliveira actually called out the winner of the Mcgregor v Poirier 2 fight in order to finally get his shot at UFC Lightweight gold and it seems as though Thomson thinks this would be a good route for the promotion to go down. This series of events could set up an incredibly enticing matchup for Nurmagomedov to take if he chooses to return to the sport towards the end of 2021:
“Do I think Conor, can he do it? I think he can. Would it be enough for Khabib to say ‘let’s fight again?’ Absolutely not.” Thomson said.
“I think Khabib wants to see that he’s changed. He’s not just a stand-up guy. Now you’re fighting just a stand-up guy in Dustin Poirier, who has great submissions. But he’s not known to be a wrestler/jiu-jitsu guy. He’s got great submissions, there’s no doubt about that. We saw him with the arm-in guillotine with Khabib, it was on tight. It was on really tight. So he’s got it in his back pocket. I think he wants to see someone like Conor fight a Charles Oliveira. He wants to see are you that good? Are you somebody that if you get taken down, can you withstand the jiu-jitsu of someone like a Charles Oliveira?”