Khabib Nurmagomedov is the hottest new UFC fighter, can he de­throne Conor?

Innovate Magazine - - Contents - By Krys­ten Maier

Re­fined but deadly, un­con­ven­tional but un­de­feated—UFC fighter and Nutrabolics ath­lete Khabib Nurmagomedov may be un­der­stated but is cer­tainly not to be un­der­es­ti­mated. Stand­ing with twenty-four con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries in the Oc­tagon, Nurmagomedov has proven his worth and his raw tal­ent time and time again, demon­strat­ing that he is a near un­stop­pable pow­er­house of his sport.

“I dom­i­nate. This is what I do,” states Khabib “The Ea­gle” coolly. Hav­ing never tapped out across eight tri­umphant wins in the cage, de­feat­ing eight com­peti­tors by KO and a fur­ther eight by sub­mis­sion, the man has earned the right to demon­strate such a re­fined con­fi­dence. Nurmagomedov has be­come an ab­so­lute ti­tan in the ring, a sta­tus that could po­ten­tially line him up with a di­rect shot at the reign­ing light­weight ti­tle holder. But The Ea­gle’s suc­cess was not a rocket-fu­elled blast to the top; it was a cool and cal­cu­lated as­cent. Khabib did not sim­ply de­cide to be­come one of the best MMA fight­ers in liv­ing mem­ory—it’s in his blood.


Grow­ing up in the re­mote moun­tains of Dages­tan, Khabib started his train­ing from early child­hood un­der the tute­lage of his fa­ther Ab­dul­manap Nurmagomedov. Him­self an ac­com­plished ath­lete and dec­o­rated veteran, Ab­dul­manap be­came a hard-as-nails trainer for Khabib and his broth­ers; run­ning his own mixed mar­tial arts stu­dio. “My fa­ther cre­ated a great foun­da­tion for me when I was a child,” Khabib rec­ol­lects, “to try to be­come the best fighter in the world.” Khabib con­sid­ers his fa­ther the great­est in­spi­ra­tion in his life.

As well as ini­ti­at­ing his son into the fun­da­men­tals of judo and com­bat sambo in the gym, Ab­dul­manap also saw fit to throw Khabib in the ring with a live griz­zly from the age of nine! What bet­ter grap­pling part­ner for a UFC beast in train­ing than an ac­tual bear cub? Though un­con­ven­tional this in­cred­i­bly adap­tive ap­proach to fight­ing and in­stilled con­cept of the lit­eral strug­gle for sur­vival have set the tone for Khabib’s somber con­fi­dence in train­ing and be­yond.



Not only a test of phys­i­cal strength, ex­er­cises like these were de­signed to push Khabib’s mental en­durance and shape his char­ac­ter. This and many other fac­tors con­tributed to strengthen Nurmagomedov’s will. Grow­ing up in a re­gion rid­dled with po­lit­i­cal ten­sions and the con­stant threat of civil war, Khabib was be­ing raised and trained for com­pet­i­tive fight­ing, but with the mind­set that he may ac­tu­ally have to, one day, fight for his very life. This has trans­lated into an im­pres­sive mental in­ten­sity and ex­treme fo­cus in the ring.

Be­ing a de­vout Sunni Mus­lim, Nurmagomedov was also raised with­out the dis­trac­tions of vices like al­co­hol or drugs, help­ing shape his sense of strict dis­ci­pline with his ex­er­cise reg­i­mens. When asked what sep­a­rates Khabib from ev­ery other fighter in his di­vi­sion he replied, “My mental tough­ness. My mental game is the strong­est.” It is ev­i­dent that his up­bring­ing molded this man into the per­fect com­peti­tor—an un­shak­able mind with a fear of noth­ing.


As Khabib Nurmagomedov grew up and tran­si­tioned from wrestling bears and spar­ring in the gym into the world of pro­fes­sional ath­leti­cism, his train­ing regime also evolved and be­came an in­te­gral part of his life. Sys­tem­at­i­cally mas­ter­ing new tech­niques, Khabib has a tal­ent for lever­ag­ing the best parts of many fight­ing styles. Af­ter be­com­ing a marked cham­pion in Sambo – a Rus­sian mar­tial art and com­bat sport mean­ing “self-de­fense with­out weapons” – in his home coun­try, Nurmagomedov turned his fo­cus to the global MMA scene and worked to­wards en­ter­ing the Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship.

“Chas­ing UFC Gold drives me,” ex­plains Nurmagomedov. “I am fo­cused on be­ing the best so I must train to be the best.” The man trains three times daily, en­sur­ing to work all the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of the game equally in or­der to best pre­pare him­self be­fore each up­com­ing matchup. A metic­u­lous an­a­lyst, Nurmagomedov cus­tom­izes his train­ing to con­cen­trate on his weak­nesses. “Af­ter ev­ery fight I go back and look to see any holes in my game and how i can im­prove and I work on it.”


In ad­di­tion to tar­get­ing cer­tain mus­cle groups and ground-fight­ing meth­ods, The Ea­gle en­sures not to ne­glect the im­por­tance of car­dio­vas­cu­lar stamina. There is a lot of sprint work in­te­grated into his train­ing rou­tine and he even takes the time to en­gage in recre­ational soc­cer: “It helps with foot­work and agility.” His typ­i­cal day would con­sist of a 30-minute run, lunch, and spar­ring. Ev­ery other night he would en­gage in grap­pling or strik­ing, and don’t for­get a re­lax­ing weekly steam in a Rus­sian sauna.

While the MMA train­ing land­scape is con­stantly evolv­ing with new de­vices and tech­nol­ogy, Khabib con­sid­ers him­self dis­tinctly old-school in his regime, tak­ing a straight-for­ward ap­proach to nu­tri­tion in par­tic­u­lar. He em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of a good clean diet, sup­ple­mented by Nutrabolics prod­ucts, specif­i­cally Isobolic pro­tein and Anabolic State for BCAAs. “Nutrabolics has been great. Be­fore I never [took] any sup­ple­ments. Now [I find] it helps my re­cov­ery, so I can train harder.”


Nurmagomedov’s hard work in the gym ab­so­lutely re­flects in his matches. With a nat­u­ral pre­dis­po­si­tion to­wards wrestling, which he con­sid­ers the most lethal of the mar­tial arts, Khabib prefers to take his op­po­nents down dur­ing a fight and beat them up, rather than strik­ing from a stand­ing po­si­tion. In a match, The Ea­gle puts the pres­sure on im­me­di­ately and looks for the fin­ish. “I al­ways fo­cus on what I will do to my op­po­nent never what he’s go­ing to do to me.”

Just imag­ine your­self in the cage, nose to nose with the 5’ 10” 155 lb mus­cle-bound Rus­sian, his dark stony eyes star­ing you down. The bell rings and he comes at you. You grap­ple with him as long as you can un­til he takes you down. Then he comes in with the over­hand right, left, right, right, right. A choke hold knocks you into sub­mis­sion and it’s all over. Now you know how Nurmagomedov’s many vic­tims might have felt like!

“I’m look­ing to seek great­ness and to de­stroy,” The Ea­gle states sim­ply of his fight­ing goals. Khabib is the #1 ranked fighter in light­weight di­vi­sion, but he still has more to prove to fans, and to him­self. He wants to be re­mem­bered as the great­est fighter of all time. He’s af­ter the glory of cham­pi­onship. He wants the belt.


It is ev­i­dent from many in­ter­views and post­match shake­downs that tak­ing on cur­rent UFC champ Conor McGre­gor is Nurmagomedov’s num­ber one pri­or­ity. Their ri­valry has been build­ing for months and has all but reached a boil­ing point. Khabib is just wait­ing for his shot to de­throne the reign­ing king. McGre­gor seems to be mak­ing ex­cuses for avoid­ing the bout, though it seems like it is only a mat­ter of time un­til UFC sets the match up. With Khabib’s flaw­less record, who wouldn’t be some­what re­luc­tant to take him on? Khabib, on the other hand, shows no hes­i­tancy to fight McGre­gor: “He is my chicken.” McGre­gor is presently pre­oc­cu­pied, pur­su­ing a match with boxing leg­end Floyd May­weather. Nurmagomedov has set­tled on fight­ing Tony Fer­gu­son for the in­terim ti­tle belt, but it’s well known that the tar­get on Mcgre­gor’s back won’t be go­ing away any­time soon. In the mean­time, the world is left won­der­ing how, as Nur­magom­dov so elo­quently puts it, 6 mil­lion Ir­ish will con­tend with 150 mil­lion Rus­sian. How will The No­to­ri­ous’ brash charisma mea­sure up to The Ea­gle’s quiet con­fi­dence? It will be def­i­nitely be the event to watch, just as Khabib Nurmagomedov, the silent as­sas­sin, the de­stroyer from Dages­tan, is now the man to watch on the MMA scene.

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