Can Khabib really be the GOAT considering he pulled out 12 times in 8 years?

Khabib Nurmagomedov concluded his storied MMA career in the wake of his father’s passing back in 2020. He had concluded his stint as a professional athlete with an unblemished 29-0 record.

While many have long speculated that Nurmagomedov’s record is padded – not many people are aware that the so called ‘Greatest of all time’ had more fights than pull outs during his stint in the UFC.

Nurmagomedov stands at 177.8 cm or 5’10” depending on your preferred metric system and it’s always been a stretch for him to make 155lbs (70.3 kg).

In fact, in wake of the stripping of Charles Oliveira, MMA’s leading journalist, Ariel Helwani reminisced about Nurmagomedov’s difficulty making weight.

There was a particularly problematic situation in Abu Dhabi ahead of his last bout. When the official weight was announced before the measuring was even done.

Nowadays, Nurmagomedov walks around 200lbs. Enough said. But there’s still the question of his frequent pull outs.

Nurmagomedov was many things – but mismanaged was not one of them. Thanks to his contacts in the UAE, Nurmagomedov was behind the biggest confirmed contract with the UFC.

In an interview with fellow MMA journalist Luke Thomas for his Youtube channel, Nash revealed.

“I’ve heard from multiple sources that the highest guaranteed check ever is probably Khabib,” Nash told Luke Thomas. “It was at least six million but I heard it was probably maybe ten million dollars guaranteed for his last couple…”
Quite a step up considering he started with $8000 to show.
From 2013 until the time of his retirement, Nurmagomedov had pulled out a number of times, most notably against Tony Ferguson. And while it was believed at the time that Ferguson would be the toughest match up for him, the holes in Ferguson’s jiu jitsu have since been exposed.
Regardless, Nurmagomedov had a number of bouts against top competitors fall through, among them those against Tony Ferguson, Donald Cerrone, Max Holloway and Gilbert Melendez.
But these pull outs also confirm that his manager was good (for him anyway). Had Charles Oliveira pulled out of the bout against Justin Gaethje – he wouldn’t have been stripped. As per rules of the Arizona Athletic commission he was stripped upon entering the cage for UFC 274.
So is it fair to say, he’s still the GOAT?
By all accounts yes. Nurmagomedov did finish out with his resume unblemished and since the Tibau bout hasn’t really lost a round. As Nurmagomedov is so keen to point out, he’s never really been scarred in the cage. And regardless how you feel about his personality – it’s hard to question the dominance he asserted against Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje.