Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, the first Muslim UFC champion
Holding a career record of twenty six wins and zero losses, Khabib Nurmagomedov may be the best lightweight mixed martial artist to ever step into the octagon.
Khabib Abdulmanapovich Nurmagomedov is a mixed martial artist hailing from the mountainous region of Dagestan located in the Russia’s North Caucasus region. Due to the harsh terrain and the country’s coastline on the Caspian Sea, Dagestan has an unusually ethnically diverse population. However regardless of the many different types of people living in the region the dominant religion practiced in the area is Islam, which has become a uniting factor for the people in their quest for freedom against Russia. Dagestani people are known for their toughness and mental strength which may be a product of the harsh environment they are raised in; the climate is extremely unforgiving, the country has had problems with militant Islam and has also been in several skirmishes with Russia.
It was this same militant Islam and violence that Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov – a wrestler and veteran of the soviet army, wanted to protect his son from. He started training Khabib in the art of Sambo (Russian hand to hand fighting) and freestyle wrestling, something the Dagestani people are well known for, at an extremely early age. In fact, Khabib even wrestled with a bear cub at the age of nine! This is something hard to comprehend for an outsider; however, one must realize that in order to survive in an extremely harsh environment a person must be unbreakable, both mentally and physically.
Khabib’s training progressed further when his family moved to Makhachkala, the capital city of Dagestan; he trained in wrestling, combat Sambo and Judo. He made his mixed martial arts debut in September 2008 and before long had amassed a perfect record of sixteen wins and zero losses. This earned Khabib a call from the UFC (Ultimate fighting championship, the largest MMA organization in the world).
Khabib defeated Kamal Shalorus in his UFC debut via rear naked choke in the third round. This win was the start of what would be one of the longest win streaks in the UFC; Khabib won the next nine fights in a row defeating the likes of Edson Barboza, Michael Johnson and Rafael Dos Anjos.
Khabib was finally offered a championship fight against Tony Ferguson, the interim champion of the light weight division, on April 7th 2018. However, Tony Ferguson pulled out of the fight due to a torn knee ligament and was replaced by Al Iaquinta, a fighter with a five fight win streak in the UFC.
Khabib dominated all five rounds of the fight and was crowned UFC lightweight champion becoming the first Muslim and Dagestani to achieve the feat. He boasts an extraordinary record of twenty six wins and zero losses.
Khabib’s fighting style can be best described as getting mauled by a bear. He focuses on wrestling his opponents down after which he proceeds to trap them and strike them with elbows and fists. Khabib’s dominance in every fight is amazing to watch; once he gets his opponents to the ground it almost seems as if they have no idea how to react or move.
After winning his championship fight Khabib called out Conor Mcgregor and Tony Ferguson; two amazing fighters in the lightweight division. If Khabib can defeat both these competitors he will truly be one of the greatest mixed martial artists to have ever fought in the octagon.