June 23, 2018

4 Reasons Why Khabib is Ready to Fight Conor Mcgregor

For many UFC fans, Khabib Nurmagomedov is something of an anomaly – he’s simultaneously known and unknown. While we know for certain that he’s one of the greatest grapplers to ever step foot inside the Octagon (or to compete in MMA, for that matter), we don’t know how he ever developed such a remarkable skillset – something that no other mixed martial artist has been able to do. Similarly, while we know that the Dagestan-born fighter is as tough as nails, we don’t know how he became so tough, or what he did to consistently out-tough the very toughest men in the world!

Now that a super fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor is being scheduled to take place at the UFC229 event in Las Vegas on October 6, perhaps we should take a look, once and for all, at some possible explanations as to why Khabib became a UFC Lightweight champion and why he’s ready to fight Conor McGregor.

  • 4. He’s a Combat Sambo World Champion.

Combat Sambo, a competitive form of Russia’s famous Sambo martial art, is far from easy to partake in; seriously, go check out some videos! More specifically, check out some videos of Nurmagomedov earning gold medals in the sport in 2009 and 2010, in Kiev and Moscow, respectively.

Nurmagomedov’s background and success in the long-developed Russian martial art are impressive because of how physically demanding the sport is, and also because his key victories in the sport were earned while his MMA career was just getting started. Bluntly stated, anyone who’s skillful enough to nab two gold medals in Combat Sambo, while developing an undefeated MMA record, is a one-in-a-million athlete – just as Khabib is. Additionally, Combat Sambo’s focus on reacting to strikes and moving to advantageous fighting positions is one that Nurmagomedov will look to implement against McGregor.

  • 3. Fighting Genes Run in His Family

Khabib Nurmagomedov isn’t the only fighting expert in his family. His father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, is a military veteran, wrestler, judo practitioner, and sambo practitioner; to be sure, it was the elder Nurmagomedov who first trained Khabib in wrestling and MMA. Moreover, Khabib has a cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov, a fellow Combat Sambo medalist, and MMA fighter. Abubakar is a dominant martial artist and has lost just once to date as a professional, as the result of a doctor’s stoppage.

Think about it like this: the odds of having arguably the best lightweight fighter in your family are minuscule; the odds of having another top-level martial artist in the family, this time at welterweight, is a statistical improbability. Clearly, there’s something more than luck contributing to the Nurmagomedov family success!

Khabib Nurmagomedov sambo t-shirt

  • 2. He Gained Invaluable MMA Experience Early On

Many MMA fighters will, in the early stage of their careers, be purposefully booked against low-end competition in an effort to bolster their records provide them with experience.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is not one of these MMA fighters.

From the very start of his career, Nurmagomedov has engaged in fights against high-level competition with stunning frequency. For example, his second, third, and fourth MMA fights – three clear-cut victories – were earned on the very same night, 11 October 2008, and comprised a total of thirty minutes of fighting; that’s five more minutes than UFC title fights and main events!

Khabib also won twice in a single night on 8 August 2009 and defeated the formidable striker and Muay Thai world champion Shahbulat Shamhalaev in November of the same year. The most important point to take away from Nurmagomedov’s early days as a martial artist is that instead of fighting “cans,” he was gaining integral experience in the sport against skillful opponents.

Even if his title fight against Conor McGregor goes twenty-five minutes, Khabib has the benefit of having already fought for longer than that in a single night. Few martial artists can say the same.

  • 1. He Trains at the American Kickboxing Academy

Because he’s so great at fighting, Khabib Nurmagomedov is usually the exclusive focus of fans, fellow fighters, and the UFC brass; his training partners and longtime gym, American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, are placed on the backburner. While this phenomenon is true of nearly every martial artist, it’s more apparent with Khabib than most other UFC stars; fans hear more about Cody Garbrandt and Team Alpha Male and Holly Holm and Jackson-Wink MMA than they do about Nurmagomedov and AKA.

While a testament to Khabib’s intriguing out-of-cage persona and remarkable in-cage performances, this highlighted phenomenon also foils any chance of the sport’s followers becoming fully aware of the training process that molds Nurmagomedov (and makes him so incredibly good).

On a given day, Khabib trains alongside former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, former UFC Welterweight Title Challenger Jon Fitch, former UFC Lightweight Title Challenger Gray Maynard, former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion and UFC Lightweight Title Challenger Josh Thomson, and many others.

Khabib Nurmagomedov trining at the AKA in USA

It’s essentially unheard of to have such a remarkable array of elite fighters to spar and work with on a daily basis – even at some of MMA’s other premier training facilities. Perhaps Khabib has continued to be such a dominant grappler in MMA because he’s able to roll with some of the middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight divisions’ greatest ground fighters.

And being able to close the distance in the face of Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez’s punching power is an ability that may very well come in handy against Conor McGregor.

These four reasons why Khabib Nurmagomedov is such an excellent fighter are all viable, but the truth is that they’ll probably be forgotten the next time he steps inside the cage. Because, as fans know, each of his performances is so incredible that, right after a new one is recorded, it becomes the talk of the combat sports world.

We’re in for a special show – regardless of who wins Conor or Khabib. What we know for a fact is that it’s going to be one of the most memorable fights in UFC history.

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