Khabib Nurmagomedov was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame earlier this year. While Nurmagomedov had an unblemished record many of his earlier career victories come from unexperienced opponents.
But regardless of the fact, by the time he reached his primer he outclassed Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje with considerable ease. The Dagestani native had come out each of his UFC bouts unblemished.
Unlike his opponents, Nurmagomedov is a devout Muslim which would land him some bad publicity over the years. But ultimately his faith had enabled him to put his best foot forward. Being a devout Muslim meant that Nurmagomedov respected Ramadan, fasted and didn’t indulge in vices.
Considering how taxing the lifestyle of an average mixed martial artist is, being rooted in faith is a considerable advantage. But it had an unpredictable side-effect. According to Khabib Nurmagomedov himself, he would often take it ‘easy’ on his opponents perhaps best observed when we consider the Conor McGregor case. McGregor was one of the only instances in which Nurmagomedov was actually antagonistic towards his opponent – continually talking to him while delivering punishing ground and pound.
But this is more than empty words for Nurmagomedov. If you rewatch the clash with Justin Gaethje – and know about grappling you’d realize that he had an easier path to victory than the triangle choke he finished – albeit one that would further deter the life and career of his opponent Justin Gaethje.
In a press conference ahead of the upcoming Eagle FC 37 tournament, the 32-year-old spoke about his hardest opponents while giving us an insight into his mindset during those events.
“I can point out two of them – Justin Gaethje and Michael Johnson,” Khabib told RT Sport.
“When I trapped [Johnson’s] hand and went for the kimura… I could’ve broken his arm. I was executing the move very carefully because if you break an arm that way it will never be the same.”
“So I was very careful, rolling it very carefully, and just asked for him to give it up.”
“As for Justin… First I went for his arm.”
“And only then I moved to the triangle choke… I realized, he would not give up and I didn’t want to cripple his hand, so I went for the triangle choke.”
“His parents were there in attendance, his father, his mother… in the front row.”
“Footage doesn’t show it, but when I entered the cage I could see them sitting there and looking at me.”
“So those two guys I didn’t want to hurt too bad.”
This was also confirmed by teammate Daniel Cormier who had shared:
“He [Khabib] told me when he was watching interviews over the course of the week, he saw that Justin said he would never tap.”
“So when he was going to the submission, he said it was his dad’s favorite submission, get into the mount position, go into the armbar and then the triangle.”
“When he got there, he was going to do the armbar but had heard Justin all week say that he wouldn’t tap and he didn’t want to hurt him in front of his parents.”
“So he went for the triangle and kind of put him to sleep.”
Further Nurmagomedov’s statements mirror Zabit Megomedsharipov’s decision to retire from the sport – in addition to confirming another thing rising prospect Muhamad Mokaev recently told media.
It’s certainly interesting to observe mixed martial arts in a socio political context. While there are plenty of restrictions tied to Islam, there are some interesting aspects that positively interact with the lifespan and trajectory of anyone who has a professional career in combat sports.