Looking to remain undefeated with his twenty-first straight victory, Nurmagomedov was faced his toughest test yet in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Healy, a grizzled veteran of many mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions, looked to right the wrongs of his much-publicized drug test failure following his victory over Jim Miller at UFC 159.
In the end, the fight delivered as promised, and Nurmagomedov showed the reason he deserves to be ranked among the best 155-pound fighters in the world. Let's take a look at the mastery of the young Russian's performance from Toronto.
Healy immediately began pushing forward to throw some hard body shots. Not to be outdone, decorated grappler Nurmagomedov showed improving striking with precise uppercuts, one of which opened up a cut on Healy's face. Nurmagomedov secured the first takedown of the fight, and closed a very strong first round by landing some hard shots against the cage.
Although his pace slowed in the second round, Nurmagomedov kept scoring points by taking Healy's back to pummel him with strikes. Taking a page out of his teammate Josh Thomson's book, Nurmagomedov landed a precise headkick as well.
Healy was game as always, and never quit pressing forward.
However, regardless of how hard he fought, Healy continued to run into the excellent takedowns of Nurmagomedov. In the third round, Nurmagomedov lifted Healy up in a huge running slam that had the crowd raving. The rising prospect locked up the unanimous decision with some good ground and pound, signifying that he is a true player in the crowded UFC Lightweight division.
With a huge win over Healy under his belt, Nurmagomedov wasted no time in asking for a title shot. That coveted bout may still be a few more impressive wins away, but Nurmagomedov will certainly find himself in the Top-10 as soon as new rankings are released.
A fight against someone like the winner of the Gray Maynard vs. Nate Diaz bout later this year could be the proving ground Nurmagomedov needs to continue his meteoric rise up the ranks. Perhaps the victor of UFC 166's Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez could be an exciting fight as well. Either way, Nurmagomedov deserves to face elite opposition in his next trip to the cage.
For Healy, it's a disappointing outcome in a fight that was pivotal in erasing the bad taste that remains from the fallout of UFC 159. He'll fall out of the Top 10 with the loss, and it's hard to say where he goes from here. A fight against someone like Rafael Dos Anjos seems a bit far-off for Healy right now, so he end up facing a Top-20 type of opponent. He'll still remain one of the strongest gatekeepers in the Lightweight arena.
Overall, this fight was all about the overall showcase of Nurmagomedov's complete game. He's evolving at a very young age, and that's a scary thought for the rest of the division. Nurmagomedov showed the striking to match his dangerous submission skills, and he could truly shake up a division that's already loaded with a sky-high level of talent.
Khabib Nurmagomedov showed that he may have one of the best all-around games in the UFC Lightweight division. What are your thoughts on where he should go next?