Across the globe, there simply may not be a more talent-rich division than the men’s 135-pound weight class. UFC 272 this past weekend (Sat., March 5, 2022) continued to provide solid evidence toward that claim.
The fourth bout of the night saw unbeaten (13-0) Umar Nurmagomedov, 26, face off with Brian “Boom” Kelleher. Due to Nurmagomedov’s original opponent, Jack Shore, dropping out, Kelleher’s short-notice arrival made the bout a 145-pound affair.
It made no difference, however, as Nurmagomedov would take out his experienced opponent in just three minutes and 15 seconds after locking in a rear-naked choke submission (watch highlights).
Planning to return to the weight class he’s fought his whole career at, Nurmagomedov caught the attention of the former 135- and 125-pound kingpin, Henry Cejudo.
“This dude, I’ve had an opportunity to roll with him just one time back at AKA (American Kickboxing Academy),” Cejudo said on his Triple C & Schmo Show podcast. “This is before I was champ. I was like, ‘Man, this kid is special.’ This kid has a certain feel to just the fight game. He’s a better competitor than he is a fighter but he’s a hell of a fighter. I think we may be looking at the future Bantamweight champion of the world. I don’t say the because he’s Khabib’s cousin, I tell you that because this kid is the real deal.
“He can strike, he can wrestle, he can submit, he has a gas tank, he’s committed,” Cejudo continued. “Everybody that’s with Khabib, man ... they’re all gonna have a gas tank. In my eyes, I think this dude could beat Petr Yan right now if they really gave him the opportunity. Because he’s got better wrestling. Petr Yan is so suspect on the grappling and nobody has taken him there. What do you think Umar would do to him? Take him down, beat him up, and that’s it.”
The Kelleher victory was just Nurmagomedov’s second inside the Octagon after submitting Sergey Morozov in Jan. 2021 (watch highlights) with the same choke as he did against Kelleher.
Time will tell if Nurmagomedov can ever work his way up to a fight for UFC gold. But, in the meantime, current interim champion Petr Yan looks to right his wrongs from his first encounter with undisputed titleholder Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259 in March 2021. Their rematch goes down at UFC 273 on Apr. 9, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida.
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For complete UFC 272 results and coverage click here.