They do things differently in Russia. They breed their mixed martial artists differently, too.
If you don't believe that to be true, consider Exhibit "A": a nine-year-old Khabib Nurmagomedov grappling a bear. Even back then, he was a skilled grappler.
According to the time stamp on the video, Nurmagomedov vs. Bear went down only three days after the UFC lightweight contender turned nine. The video is something of a highlight reel, with Nurmagomedov slickly hitting single legs, high crotch rolls and surprisingly deep double legs against his ursine opponent.
Again, to be clear: This is a nine-year-old boy wrestling a live bear.
In discussing his son's aptitude for handling one of nature's greatest predators in a boyhood grappling match, Nurmagomedov's father, Abdulmanap, told ToFight.Ru in 2015 (h/t Bloody Elbow) that the matchup was "a test of character more than exercise."
That's one way of describing it.
The bear could not be reached for comment.
Nurmagomedov has parlayed his youthful pursuits into a 24-0 professional MMA record and 8-0 UFC run, becoming one of the most feared mat tacticians in the sport. He smashed Michael Johnson at UFC 205 to secure his place as a top title contender and will take on Tony Ferguson for the UFC interim lightweight title in the co-main event of UFC 209, going down this Saturday in Las Vegas.
Check out the video below.