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Chael Sonnen says Khabib Nurmagomedov pretends to practice ‘fake sport’ of Sambo

MMA: UFC 205-Nurmagomedov vs Johnson Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

For all you Sambo practitioners out there, now may be the time to close your eyes and walk away from the computer.

Because even though surging UFC lightweight title contender Khabib Nurmagomedov hails from a storied background in Sambo and has dominated all 25 of his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts to date, the Russian’s Sambo background still isn’t getting the credit it may deserve.

According to outspoken MMA analyst and current Bellator MMA fighter Chael Sonnen, Sambo wouldn’t be considered a sport if ran the world. In fact, Sonnen believes Nurmagomedov derives absolutely nothing from his Sambo background, instead suggesting “Eagle” is dominant because of his wrestling pedigree.

“Sambo sucks, Sambo has always sucked and I don’t believe Khabib [Nurmagomedov] is a Sambo player,” Sonnen said during a recent episode of his Beyond the Fight podcast. “I think somewhere he just wanted to pay respect to Sambo. Being Dagestani, I believe he got the skills he got in a wrestling room. He clings to that Sambo.

“In the history of them setting up that [UFC] cage, there has never been a contender – let alone a stand-out – that was good at Sambo. It sucks. It’s not real. It’s a fake sport.”

While Sambo is a widely respected discipline, especially within the military framework of Russia, Sonnen isn’t convinced that the martial art is an effective tool in today’s professional combat world. So even though Khabib has produced a perfect 9-0 UFC record since his Octagon inception in 2012, Sonnen isn’t attributing that success to Sambo in any way, shape, or form.

“Sambo is the martial art of the Russian military,” Sonnen explained. “The Russians have a very good military so it adds credibility to Sambo. Nobody has stopped to think well, those sons of bitches have guns and tanks too. They’re not really out there doing this Sambo with their Sambo jackets on.”

“I’m actually now taking joy in the fact that I know I’m going to offend a bunch of people,” Sonnen added. “Let those crybabies cry. Sambo sucks. But Khabib doesn’t suck, he just pretends he does Sambo. That’s a wrestler right there.”

Too harsh?

Sambo expert, wrestling prodigy, or brawler of bears, it really doesn’t matter. When Nurmagomedov steps inside of the cage opposite interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson at UFC 223 on April 7 in New York City he’s going to need every ounce of expertise and experience to capture his 10th UFC win.

We’ll have to wait and see exactly what “Eagle” can do against “El Cucuy” when the two square off in just two weeks, especially if the action hits the canvas (which it probably will).

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