clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What does it feel like to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov? ‘He feels like a damn middleweight’

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is 26-0 as a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, which includes a perfect 10-0 run inside the Octagon, so clearly the leader of the “Eagle” army is doing something right.

And that’s what makes his reign of terror so unique. There’s no secret to unraveling the Dagestani’s gamelan, as each fight brings about the same ground-based attack (sample). Every opponent knows what Nurmagomedov is going to do, yet no one, to date, has been able to stop it.

“I train with light heavyweights and heavyweights, and that’s the closest I’ve ever felt to his top game,” former opponent, Darrell Horcher, told ESPN. “You get a light heavyweight who probably weighs 230 pounds in the gym on top of you, it felt about the same to that. His feet were in concrete. I was so tired. His pressure just sucks the wind out of you.”

Nurmagomedov, who averages more than five takedowns per fight, is a No-Gi NAGA world champion and World Combat Sambo gold medalist who set a UFC record for takedowns (21) at UFC 160, a lopsided decision win over four-time NAIA All-American Abel Trujillo.

“It wasn’t even his wrestling that was a problem, it was definitely his top control,” Michael Johnson told ESPN about his submission loss to Nurmagomedov at UFC 205. “I think he gives you choices. You can defend punches, or you can try to get up, or you can try to get your wrists free. He’s always attacking and holding the position. He feels like a damn middleweight, and I was a smaller lightweight.”

The champion will put his belt on the line against former division kingpin, Conor McGregor, when the cage door closes in the UFC 229 pay-per-view (PPV) main event this Saturday night (Oct. 6, 2018) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a classic striker vs. grappler contest.

McGregor was taken down twice by Nate Diaz, once at UFC 196 and then again at UFC 202, but most notably, struggled to stay on his feet against Chad Mendes during their featherweight title fight at UFC 189, a bout “Notorious” won by technical knockout.

“His wrestling was pretty bad,” Mendes told ESPN. “In my opinion, he was a novice. He wasn’t able to keep up with the changes in direction. Conor had good defense on the first go-around, but once the chain wrestling kicked in, he couldn’t keep up.”

We’ll see if McGregor can keep up this weekend in “Sin City,” where the winner of the UFC 229 headliner is expected to move on to face the winner of Tony Ferguson vs. Anthony Pettis, who collide in the three-round co-main event.

For much more on UFC 229 click here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania