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UFC 160 Prelim Breakout Star: Khabib Nurmagomedov

(Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

The Prelim Breakout Star is a once per event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention the most talented guy on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.

 

Often Prelim Breakout Star is intended to showcase a fighter on his way up. However, today we get a chance to look at somebody who has already made a successful rise to the rankings, but still finds himself on the preliminary card of this Saturday’s UFC 160.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Nickname – The Eagle

Affiliation – Red Fury Fight Team; American Kickboxing Academy

From – Makhachkala, Russia

Height – 5’10”

Weight – 155lbs (Lightweight)

Record – 19-0 (3-0 UFC)

 

What makes him impressive

As mentioned in a previous edition, there has been a fairly large influx of fighters from the former Soviet Union in the UFC and other major organizations. Nurmagomedov is an excellent example of what makes these recent imports so deadly – well-roundedness. His combat Sambo background has made him strong on the ground while his black belt in Judo has given him the power to dictate where the fight takes place. This versatility is even more evident by looking at the method of his victories; 7 submissions, 7 knockouts and 5 decisions.

One thing that cannot be overlooked in breaking down a fighter is the momentum he carries. Having never lost in his 19 career professional fights, Nurmagomedov carries himself with a lot of confidence. He’s willing to take the fight anywhere and is sure he can beat anybody there.

 

Why he’s been overlooked

For one of the first times, I can’t quite answer this question. He is 19-0 and has dominated all three of his UFC opponents. He’s also beaten name opponents outside of the UFC such as Shahbulat Shamhalaev. There’s no good reason for him to be on the preliminary card.  

 

What makes this a good matchup

When Abel Trujillo faces off with Nurmagomedov, he’ll be facing yet another tough grappler. While he has handled the previous grapplers like Marcus LeVasseur with little issue, he has not faced a grappler who will mix up strikes and grappling attempts sufficiently. The way Nurmagomedov uses his striking techniques to aid his grappling will give Trujillo fits and once again allow him to take the fight anyway he wants to.  

Daniel Vreeland is a writer (PrelimPicker) and teacher with an avid love for martial arts. He has practiced jiu jitsu and submission grappling under and next to many top names including Royce Gracie, Rousimar Palhares, Murilo Bustamante and Marco Alvan. He has placed in multiple NAGA grappling tournaments and currently trains under black belt Dave Roy in Amherst, MA.

 

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