Khabib Nurmagmedov got his wish last week. The lightweight champ leapfrogged Jon Jones and can now be found at the top of the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings. You can call it sentimental if you like. You could also call it absolutely warranted. The man he replaced seems to disagree – former UFC light heavyweight champ Jones (26-1, one no contest) reacted to the news by tweeting, “ This is number one b*******.” But what happened at UFC 254 on October 25 in Abu Dhabi will go down as one of the most iconic nights in the history of MMA. Few could have anticipated Nurmagomedov’s retirement after his second-round submission win vs Justin Gaethje (22-3). UFC president Dana White has since suggested the 32-year-old Dagestan native could have one more fight after all and stressed there are no plans to make him vacate his title . In many ways, one last dance would make sense. It was widely accepted he would sign off with the perfect symmetry of a 30-0 record. But the champ had other ideas, and placed his gloves in the Octagon and said goodbye on the back of 29 straight victories, the last of which might have been his most impressive. Nurmagomedov’s retirement speech on Fight Island was emotional. He spoke of his late father Abdulmanap and cited the promise he made to his mother this would be his last fight, but he had one last request. “I know only one thing that I want from the UFC,” he said. “You guys have to put me number one pound for pound in the world. Because I deserve this.” Too right, he does – talk about retiring at the top of your game. UFC: Whittaker insists Adesanya rematch ‘only fight I want’ Having won the vacant lightweight title in 2018, Nurmagomedov went on to make three successful defences, with three wins via submission. Those three fights were unquestionably the highest-profile bouts of his career, against the toughest competition and the biggest names, and the wild thing about that run is he went one better each time. He tapped out Conor McGregor in the fourth round at UFC 229. Then 11 months later, he made Dustin Poirier quit in the third. Then, for his finale in Abu Dhabi, he choked out Gaethje inside two rounds. Before that, the American had never been submitted by anyone. “The Eagle” has only ever lost two rounds in the UFC and has never bled a drop. Gaethje was supposed to be the toughest test of his career, the guy who beat “El Cucuy” Tony Ferguson (25-4) to a bloody pulp. But Nurmagomedov was able to do exactly what he’s done to each of the 12 UFC opponents that came before – overwhelm him, overpower him, finish him. That dominance is what makes Nurmagomedov for now, certainly, the best pound-for-pound in the business, until he officially vacates that belt. Jones can disagree all he wants. Yes, he is one of the greatest, if not the greatest mixed martial artist ever, but he no longer warrants top spot while Nurmagomedov remains “active”. His last fight was a debatable unanimous decision against Dominick Reyes (12-2). Before that came a questionable split decision against Thiago “Marreta” Santos (21-7), who had torn his ACL, MCL and PCL early on. Go back one further and you will find a lacklustre, unanimous decision over Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (33-16). Since his 2013 victory over Chael Sonnen (31-17), Jones only has one official stoppage win. Yes, his overall resume is phenomenal, and if he goes up to heavyweight and wins the belt there, then sure, he goes back to the summit. But until then, Nurmagomedov has earned his spot at the top of the pile.