BJ Penn believes that Khabib Nurmagomedov never moved to welterweight intentionally. Further explaining, Penn stated that he doesn’t believe Khabib made a move up in weight due to his level of Brazillian jiu-jitsu.
BJ Penn on why Khabib Never Moved to Welterweight
Khabib is generally viewed as the best lightweight of all time. Some fans and media have made a case for Khabib being one of the all-time greats in UFC history. However, Khabib never made the jump to the welterweight division, and BJ Penn believes he knows why.
“Since Khabib has been saying he is the greatest lightweight of all time and I am number 2 best lightweight many people have been asking me why didn’t Khabib fight Usman for the 170-pound belt or compete for 170 belt like I did many times… in my humble opinion it is because he is not proficient and confident in jiujitsu,” said Penn.
“I believe the reason behind Khabib not fighting Usman is because he does not know jiujitsu like I did and he is not comfortable fighting off his back against someone who is bigger and stronger than him like I did many many times in my career. I fought at 170, 185, and heavyweight, and every fight I had to fight from my back and survive and come back and fight harder if I was to get a victory.”
Penn Explains his BJJ Experience Level
“It’s because of my jiujitsu black belt experience and fighting in my weight and absolute division for years that always prepared me for this…Gracie jiujitsu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu alone is not enough to be UFC champion but to choose one system BJJ is still the greatest self-defense system in the world especially for the little man to fight the big man.”
“It was just part of the game,” he continued. “Khabib says jiujitsu is easy and he is the best grappler ever but he did not fight bigger opponents in higher weight classes because his style is not prepared for this …and that’s what jiujitsu was created for.. for the little man to defend himself from the big man! That is martial arts, that is self-defense!!”
Fighters in the past have doubled down on this belief, saying that they would welcome the idea of Khabib moving to 170lbs. However, now that Nurmagomedov is officially retired from the sport, I guess we’ll never know.