The transition of UFC stars from the octagon to the WWE’s squared circle is something that fans of either brand find fascinating. As a wrestler since childhood, one high-profile UFC star with the potential to make a name for himself in the WWE is Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, he is currently entombed in UFC commitments, with a long reign as lightweight champion on his agenda.
By all accounts, WWE have pursued Khabib in the past, but the timing of WWE’s approach could hardly have been worse. In October 2018, Khabib was winding down from a fight with fellow potential WWE target Conor McGregor that ended in a chaotic skirmish between both camps. He was suspended at this time but never followed through on his apparent threat to defect.
Background and breeding difficult for WWE to market
With Khabib knowing every worthwhile move in the industry, the key ingredients to hypothetical success in the WWE are there. Yet, becoming a marketable figure, with a personality that can win favor with a Stateside audience, would also be crucial.
Naturally, a unique gimmick is a major catalyst towards doing that successfully, with his non-American origin being an obvious starting point. Of course, the modern iteration of WWE would demand something relevant if that was the case – long gone are the simple days of ‘east vs west’, of Hogan vs Volkoff or the Iron Sheikh. Finding another gimmick for Khabib would take a lot of time and brainpower, and the WWE would have greater priorities in any case.
Furthermore, Khabib is now at the height of his potency with the UFC brand. He boasts a 28-0 UFC record and is the favorite across every major SBO reviewed sportsbook offering MMA betting to beat Justin Gaethje in October’s staging of UFC 254 and defend his lightweight title. Yet, even without the potential to go into rare territory and breach the 30-0 watershed, Khabib’s decision had additional roots within his possible lack of WWE marketability.
Pure power would be Khabib’s only X-factor
Perhaps the only opportunity being missed here is the chance of seeing power moves from Khabib, and he naturally has them in his arsenal. Nonetheless, Khabib’s current rate of submission wins in the UFC (35.7%) might spur him on to specialize in submissions in the event of a WWE move, and ignore other areas.
While some of the greatest WWE superstars – Bret Hart, Ric Flair, and Sgt Slaughter to name a few – had famous submission-style finishers, a large number of viewers still prefer a cathartic slam at the end of matches. Memorably, moves such as the Stunner, the Pedigree, and the Tombstone were a massive draw during the company’s pivotal ‘Attitude Era’, and set the new standard of brutality for generations of fans to come.
Yet, with Khabib currently competing in the UFC lightweight division, his consistent ability to pull off any ‘power moves’ against far bigger athletes would be brought into question. In turn, there is only one conclusion, and that is to declare Khabib’s decision as a correct one – though it is a reflection on his personal circumstances rather than any lack of opportunity at the WWE.
Of course, WWE’s history does boast some successful transitions. From Ken Shamrock to Brock Lesnar, key names have enjoyed respect amongst WWE viewers, and all that needs to be right is the time of transition, and to ensure that it matches the demands of a paying audience.