Age: 25 Height: 5'10" Reach: 70"
Fight camp: Red Fury Fight Team/American Kickboxing Academy
Record: 22-0 (7 knockouts, 7 submissions)
Last Three Fights
Def. Rafael dos Anjos (Dec), UFC on Fox 11
Def. Pat Healy (Dec), UFC 165
Def. Abel Trujillo (Dec), UFC 160
Takedown Average: 7.09, Takedown Accuracy: 48%, Takedown Defense: 83%
Khabib Nurmagomedov has blitzed the UFC's lightweight division, overwhelming opponents with his remarkable wrestling attack.
In his UFC debut against Kamal Shalorus, Nurmagomedov took the decorated Iranian wrestler and grappler down three times over the course of three rounds, giving up zero takedowns in return before finally sinking in a fight-ending rear-naked choke.
From there, things only became crazier and even more lopsided.
In his next five UFC fights, Nurmagomedov landed 32 takedowns and gave up just two, one to Gleison Tibau (who weighs 181 pounds on fight night) and one to Abel Trujillo, both solid wrestlers in their own right. And while Trujillo earned a fancy feather for his cap in taking "The Golden Eagle" down, he got absolutely destroyed in the process.
Nurmagomedov secured a UFC-record 21 takedowns in 15 minutes against "Killa," shattering the previous mark of 16 takedowns set by Sean Sherk in a five-round fight against Hermes Franca at UFC 73 in July 2007.
As a two-time combat Sambo world champion and a black belt in Judo, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product utilizes a variety of suplexes, trips and throws that are simply too polished, aggressive and powerful for any 155-pounder to stop, and he is a master of tossing his foes to the mat and pinning them there for the bout's duration.
Despite fighting in a division littered with standout wrestlers, it's hard to imagine anyone dominating Nurmagomedov in this facet of the game as he advances his stellar MMA career.
Submission Average: 0.6
Nurmagomedov's notched just one victory via submission in his UFC career, meaning his grappling is not quite as outstanding as his wrestling. But he's also faced three Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts in his six fights, so the chances to force a tapout were few and far between.
While he hasn't tapped anybody since his UFC debut against Shalorus, Nurmagomedov has showcased a smothering top game and some smooth guard passes, getting past Rafael dos Anjos' defensive guard six times at UFC on Fox 11 and repeatedly establishing dominant positions against Pat Healy at UFC 165.
Nurmagomedov is relentless and dynamic in his grappling just as he is in his wrestling, and his opponents are generally too busy fending off his guard passes and ground-and-pound to mount any significant offense of their own.
The undefeated sensation has never been reversed on the ground, and he's never been in real danger of being submitted. The 2012 North American Grappling Association world champion, Nurmagomedov imposes his will inside the cage, dismantling his foes on the ground and leaving them broken and defeated.
Significant Strikes Landed per Minute: 2.63, Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute: 1.59
If Nurmagomedov has shown any weakness so far in his UFC run, it's in his striking game, where he remains raw and unpolished. He gets wild and loose with his stand-up, inadvisably leaping forward with strikes and leaving his defense wide open in the process.
No fighter has been able to clip him mid-flurry yet, but as he continues to face better and better competition, the risk will heighten, and we may see Nurmagomedov sent to the canvas courtesy of a well-timed counter shot in the near future.
Once on the ground, however, Nurmagomedov's striking is absolutely terrifying. After dropping Thiago Tavares with a lunging left uppercut, Nurmagomedov jumped into the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt's guard, quickly passing to half guard and raining down savage elbows and hammerfists until the referee intervened.
It was quick and brutal, and it showcased just how devastating Nurmagomedov's power can be once he puts all the pieces together and learns how to harness this natural force into a refined, finished product.
Nurmagomedov knows where he's best, and he works tirelessly in pursuit of the takedown, attempting 72 takedowns in six UFC contests, an average of 12 per fight and four per round.
Making the situation worse for his opponents, Nurmagomedov is excellent at completing these attempts. He's not just spamming takedowns in hopes of actually landing one. He throws opponents around like grappling dummies and, so far, nobody has found a solution for this straightforward, power-based approach.
Fighting is in his blood, and Nurmagomedov has competed and excelled at a high level for more than half of his life, sometimes enlisting the help of non-human training partners to hone his skills. In the UFC, he skated past top-level competition in Dos Anjos with ease, but now the real test for Nurmagomedov begins.
How will he perform against the Benson Hendersons and the Gilbert Melendezes of the sport—truly elite lightweights who are never lost wherever a fight may go?
That's the only remaining question mark lingering above Nurmagomedov's head at this point. If he proves he can eliminate an opponent at that level, it seems inevitable that he will become the UFC lightweight champion in short order.