Khabib Nurmagomedov — a name which did not hold too much weight five years before — has been catapulted into UFC stardom and is a contender many seem to want to sidestep. Nurmagomedov, a native son of Dagestani, has a magnitude of tools in his locker which he disposes of with ease and fluidity, and has his eagle- eyes set on exercising domination over the UFC lightweight division.
The ‘Eagle’ has made a huge splash in the MMA and intends to stay swimming in UFC decorations for some time to come. The Russian brags an impressive 28-0 undefeated record — the longest active unbeaten streak in MMA. The 31-year-old — indoctrinated in sambo, judo and wrestling — demonstrates an unorthodox style of grappling which has made him one of the most dominant athletes in the history of MMA.
Born in Dagestan, yet adopting Russian citizenship, the born-brawler had a tough, cruel, yet insightful and disciplined upbringing. Khabib, reminiscent of an ancient Spartan united with humble beginnings that are represent of an ultimate warrior — fierce, fearless, brutish and exercises a one-dimensional totalitarianism attitude.
The warrior is engrained to win, to never submit to defeat. Khabib has honoured this tradition of carrying the merciless and rugged Russian-persona flag — with no clear Achilles heel and an undented record, Khabib manifests little to no emotion.
His father, Adulmanap is to thank for his unbridled success within MMA, a tough man who has conditioned his son to the very core. Adulmanap has said that his son learned to walk on a wrestling mat. His father, a hardened coach with a remarkable resume of accolades from his glory days during the USSR, has trained a handful of gifted wrestlers at the bottom of his two-story residence at the time. Fighting is in the Nurmagomedov genes, and he was aggressively-encouraging his son until he was of age to take up his father’s mantle in the contact sport.
His father was the epitome of tough. Shortly after Khabib’s ninth birthday, his father led him outside, toward a chained bear cup and instructed him to wrestle the savage creature while he shot the footage on a handheld camera. The cub — clearly larger and heavier than the young Nurmagomedov — had an obvious advantage and Khabib was forced to wrestle the animal. Well accustomed to the Dagestani culture and patriarchy, the boy knew not to question his forthright father.
Khabib’s upbringing was not particularly unusual among Dagestani families. While most children did not have a wrestling champions for parents, almost all young boys in the village settled their bouts on the surface of a wrestling mat. It was a refuge to channel their energy and a retreat to avoid the traumatic experiences that ravaged the North Caucasus.
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Early Career
His professional mixed martial arts debut came to fruition in September 2008. He quickly steamrolled wins claiming four within the month — the Russian was crafting an early message to send to the MMA nation. A month on from his victories, he claimed the inaugural Atrium Cup tournament in Moscow.
Next up was another three wins, Khabib had started building the foundations towards his unbreachable winning streak. Nurmagomedov competed in ProFC promotion in 2011, where he won all seven fights with either TKO or submission successfully taking his tally to 16-0. The UFC decided to give Khabib a phone call.
Nurmagomedov was quickly making his presence known and forging his top-game takedowns for opponents to witness. The ‘Eagle’ signed a six-fight deal in the UFC’s lightweight division in late 2011 and made his UFC debut on January 2012, on UFC FX1 defeating Kamal Shalorus via submission.
This was the rise to prominence for the Dagestan born fighter, he was on a one-way ticket to becoming one of the most dominant and decorated fighters within the UFC division.
Wins that Crafted Khabib
The ‘Eagle’ has carved some truly mesmerizing fights out in his time within the 8 walls, but what bouts have put Khabib on the UFC map — what showdowns have been the jewel in his UFC crown?
Rafael Dos Anjos 2013 – The first true-test for the apex warrior came in the form of a preliminary bout against Brazilian Rafael Dos Anjos in 2013. The Russian grappler proved that he was more than up to the task by dominating Dos Anjos throughout the three-round matchup. A unanimous decision victory laid down the foundations for Khabib to take on the very best fighter that the UFC had to offer.
Michael Johnson – This was the performance that many believed he announced himself as a potential opponent for Conor McGregor. Khabib provided to be too strong for a seasoned Johnson, whose slick hands and solid wrestling credentials were nullified by world-class Nurmagomedov.
Johnson’s striking looked up to the mark early on, but Khabib soon jolted into action walking through the American’s punches and dragged Johnson down to his preferred elevation — while he peppered punches to cement an overwhelming win.
Conor McGregor 2018 – It was the fight the world had been calling for — and when it eventually materialised, it was the ‘Eagle’ who held all the cards. Most fighters on the circuit wouldn’t dare stand toe-to-toe with the Dubliner — but Nurmagomedov surprised the world with his stand-up prowess, refusing to be intimidated by the Irish superstar.
The fight was pitched as the “striker vs the grappler” but Khabib withstood the Irishman’s fatal strikes dropping him to the canvas submitting him with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round.
McGregor was shell-shocked — his fall from grace was a sobering realisation. For all the hype and hate spewed into the lead-up, the fight itself was not much of a contest with Khabib outfoxing The Notorious. While a rematch has been talked about, Khabib has very little to prove by taking it.
The star has brushed aside every foe who has stepped in his way and is plastered in numerous accolades. Furthermore, the grappling Russian has employed composure, respect and has a great desire to lead by example for the younger generation to follow. Whatever the UFC have on offer for Khabib, we have a plethora of talent to watch come in and out the octagon, but this Russian menace will surely be one of the hardest opponents to topple, or dare I say, usurp.