Khabib Nurmagomedov was under the microscope to begin UFC 165. Fans were impressed with the former Combat Sambo World Champion thus far into his career but weren't ready to declare him as a true title contender.
After his victory over Pat Healy, it's hard not to envision Nurmagomedov being put in the mix at 155 pounds. Although I've been singing his praise since UFC 165, I do have some reservations about Nurmagomedov being ready for a title shot.
Yes, Healy is a tough opponent, but let's not confuse him with a top-five lightweight. He has wins over some quality competition but hasn't moved on from the gatekeeper status.
The unanimous-decision victory for Nurmagomedov solidifies him as a top-10 fighter, but the Russian will need to rack up some victories over stiffer competition before the UFC is likely to throw him into a title fight.
Luckily for Nurmagomedov, there's no shortage of big-name fighters for him to face next.
The UFC should avoid pairing Nurmagomedov with a striker in his next bout if it wants to see if the Russian is a true contender. We've seen him put on wrestling clinics since coming to the UFC, but we haven't seen him be forced to use his striking game.
Nurmagomedov had no issues with throwing his hands initially, but as he got wild, Healy started to get back into the fight, which of course caused Nurmagomedov to go back to what works best for him: his wrestling. But what if he didn't have that option?
To be a true title contender, a fighter must be well-versed in every aspect of the fight game. We know Nurmagomedov is a great grappler (while on top), but we haven't seen his striking skills improve or his submission game either. Being a one-dimensional fighter won't win you an UFC title, especially not in the shark tank that is the UFC lightweight division.