When Khabib Nurmagomedov failed to reach the required weight of 155 pounds at UFC 160, which took place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 25, 2013, he didn't necessarily do anything to damage what should eventually correlate into a Lightweight title shot-earning performance.
The 20 percent of the $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus) purse that he conceded when he chose to not sweat out the 3.5 extra pounds he brought to the scale, is nothing compared to what a prolonged win streak will ultimately earn him.
In fact, I am of the belief the choice to not make weight was an intelligent one.
The added leverage obviously was parlayed into a grappling performance demanding attention. He was able to save the energy lost by cutting the weight and utilize it to pick up a unanimous 30-27 decision victory over Abel Trujillo. The technique itself wasn’t ugly and plodding as most grinders are -- it wasn't a case of the dreaded blanket technique that is as played out as auto-tune is in hip hop.
On the contrary, this was take your opponent’s back and impose your will upon him for 15 terrorizing minutes.
The Russian phenom took down Trujillo whenever he wanted, bulldozing the previous Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) take down record for one fight. He hit 21 out of 27 attempts (77 percent) to surpass Sean Sherk's record of 16 that he set in 2007.
"The Eagle" has yet to taste defeat in his first 20 professional fights with 14 coming by way of stoppage, accruing a four-fight win streak to start off his career inside the Octagon. The detractors all share the same opinion as Dana White, who when he was asked about Nurmagomedov following UFC 160 he simply said, "He needs to fight higher-caliber guys."
Yes he does Dana, and he needs to now. Now, it’s up to White and Co. to give this guy a legit contender.
So is Patrick Healy -- who he will battle at UFC 165, which at UFC 165 from Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 21, 2013 --the guy?
After an impressive victory over the always tough Jim Miller, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans were praising the effort of the 30 year old. Some wavered on this after it was revealed he smoked some pot, but most thought nothing should have changed following the positive test.
Nurmagomedov has about as much of a right to demand back the 20 percent of his purse he gave Trujillo purely based on his dominance as Healy does the much maligned Bryan Carraway, who was the unapologetic recipient of "Bam Bam's: forfeited "Fight Night" bonus.
I won’t lie, I am already looking past Healy.
That's because I see this fight being a carbon copy of the Trujillo rout. Nurmagomedov's wrestling pedigree cannot be contained and, unlike those who cannot impose their will in certain situations, he is not afraid to go fists up with Healy.
Smart money says the fight will end up in a suplex fest. Nurmagomedov is aware his time to make an impact is the present and I do not see him losing sight of the ultimate goal -- a title shot. He had been calling for anyone and everyone via Twitter, including legend B.J. Penn and the man poised to take the thrown of division champion, Ben Henderson, before the controversial "injury" T.J. Grant sustained in training.
Both of whom are stronger tests than Healy.
So when it came out last week Nurmagomedov would face Healy I was a tad bit bummed. I don’t feel like he gains much from this bout aside from another notch on the undefeated streak. This may sound like I am downplaying Healy’s ability and six-fight (seven) Strikeforce win streak of his own. [Side note: Just noticed one of the fighter’s Healy defeated was Bryan Travers of Fight Master].
Not the case, it’s more of a testament to someone I feel is ready to be considered among the elite in the Lightweight division. Nurmagomedov’s cardio tank is always full, meaning he would transition nicely into a five-round bout against the legs of Henderson.
In all likelihood, Nurmagomedov will fight someone lesser to fill time in between the champion’s bouts against people already in the title shot queue. Fighters more along the lines of Jorge Masvidal or an in-decline Jim Miller. However, I hope this is not the case and the 24 year old is given the opportunity to continue distancing himself from the pack as everyone unanimously concurs.
Attention whore wig aside, Nurmagomedov demands respect, inside and outside of the Octagon. Come UFC 165, I’m all in on Khabib Nurmagomedov. Are you?
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