Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov has one of the hardest names in the UFC to pronounce, but everyone should know it. It is pronounced Habib Nur-ma-go-med-off, and he is now 24-0 in his MMA career and 8-0 in his UFC career after beating Michael Johnson Saturday night at UFC 205. He was the top contender in 2014 before tearing his ACL and missing all of 2015. He has come back to fight twice in 2016 in dominating fashion and should be the clear favorite for the next title shot.
Khabib beat Rafael Dos Anjos in April of 2014 and seemed to be in line for the title shot. He tore his ACL in training and was sidelined until April of 2016, almost two years to the day. He came back without missing a step and finished Darell Horcher in the second-round.
He fought Michael Johnson Saturday night at UFC 205 prelims, which were free on Fox Sports 1. It was the most watched prelims in the history of UFC and was great exposure for Khabib, who is the best fighter that people don’t know about. People will know him now. He demolished Michael Johnson, who is a top-level lightweight, and Khabib ran over him. Johnson had some early success on the feet with some heavy blows, but once Khabib closed the distance his take-downs were unstoppable. His top game is as good as it gets, and he stays active with heavy strikes from the top. He had so much control over the fight that he was yelling at Dana White about giving him the tittle shot in between rounds. He submitted Johnson in the third-round with a kimura. He then called for a title shot in his interview and said he is going to “beat Dana’s son” referring to Conor McGregor. It seems he is healthy, and after the best performance of his career, could be the clear choice for the next title shot.
Khabib is from Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia. He is a two time Sambo Combat world champion, a wrestler and a judo black belt. He is an international renowned grappler whose abilities are only matched by few MMA fighter, one being Daniel Cormier his American training partner. Khabib trains in Russia, but when he trains in America he trains at AKA with Cain, Cormier, and Rockhold. All have been UFC champions and maybe it is Khabib’s turn. The only argument against him is that he may not move the needle like some other fighters do, but there is no denying 24-0, so it will be interesting to see where the UFC goes from here.