Two very talented lightweights duked it out last night (Jan. 19, 2013) as unbeaten Russian prospect Khabib Nurmagomedov battled Thiago Tavares in the opening bout of the UFC on FX 7 main card in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Nurmagomedov entered the bout with an unscathed 18-0 record, but a multitude of questions about his raw skills and whether or not he could rise to the occasion in a main card bout in a hostile environment.
Did he ever.
Both fighters traded being the aggressor early on, each occasionally backing each other up but it was Nurmagomedov who was closing the distance quickly with his extremely unorthodox lunging attacks which tried to knock the Brazilian's block off.
About 90 seconds into the fight, he did just that, stepping in with a left uppercut and a follow-up right hook which sent Tavares to the canvas in serious trouble.
Nurmagomedov quickly pounced with heavy elbows, which seemed to put Tavares out immediately but the referee Dan Miragliotta decided he wanted to be a sadist and allowed the Brazilian to eat about 17 unanswered elbows on the ground before finally stepping in and putting a stop to the onslaught.
For Thiago Tavares, this one was over before he really ever had a chance to get anything going. Nurmagomedov was just a bit too big, powerful and surprisingly fast for him, landing that heavy lunging attack and putting him away with a very violent flurry of elbows. The only thing he could have really done was have a bit better reflexes to not get clipped. Perhaps this will finally be the fight that sends the undersized lightweight packing to the featherweight division as his chin is not that good and this won't be the last time he gets knocked senseless at 155 pounds.
For Khabib Nurmagomedov, he won this fight by being incredibly unorthodox and unpredictable. Most fighters will step forward with a simple overhand right or something when they're trying to really hurt their opponents with a big power shot, but he would dive into the fray with the most awkward-looking blows, but he threw them so quickly that Tavares couldn't get out of the way in time. He looked much more explosive than in any of his previous bouts and that's going to be something that's difficult to prepare for moving forward.
When he had his opponent hurt, Nurmagomedov's killer instincts were phenomenal. The bout should have been stopped way earlier, but that's not his fault, that's on the referee. He elbowed Tavares into kingdom come and that's exactly what he should have done when he had him in trouble.
Next up for Nurmagomedov could be anyone from Jim Miller and Jamie Varner to the debuting Pat Healy. It's definitely time to see what he's capable of against someone higher up the food chain.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
How horrific was the refereeing in this bout? Do you think Nurmagomedov can actually become a player in the lightweight division?