Said Nurmagomedov: Russia’s latest UFC star in the making
Nurmagomedov, 26, finished Brazil’s Ricardo Ramos inside the first round of their bantamweight bout on the preliminary card at UFC Fight Night 144 in Fortaleza on Saturday night.
The Russian closed the action with a spinning back-kick to the midsection of his rival, before finishing Ramos with punches up against the fence.
It was Nurmagomedov’s second win in two appearances since switching to the UFC, and a first at bantamweight after he stepped up to 135lbs to face Ramos.
It made a mockery of much of the talk which had Nurmagomedov down as an underdog against the 23-year-old Brazilian, who himself was on a four-fight win streak heading into the contest, including three wins in the UFC.
But perhaps more importantly, it showed Said Nurmagomedov is well-positioned to blaze a trial this year that could elevate him to broader recognition alongside his famous namesake, undefeated UFC lightweight king Khabib, 30.Also on rt.com Khabib confirms UFC legend GSP is target for November fight
The younger Nurmagomedov inevitably shares fighting traits with his fellow Dagestani, including a strong set of grappling skills that often mark out fighters from the region.
Indeed, there remains some confusion in MMA circles as to Said’s ties with Khabib. Reports continue to state that the pair are cousins – which may stem from Said referring to Khabib as his "brother," although not in the blood-relative way some have taken it to mean.
To add to the confusion, the MMA world boasts a third Nurmagomedov, Khabib's cousin Abubabkar, who last appeared in the Professional Fighters League in October.
But Khabib himself cleared up the question of his ties with Said when telling RT Sport about his fellow Dagestani fighter back at the start of 2018.
“Of course I know him, he’s a good friend, he’s an amazing fighter, but he’s not my cousin even though we have the same name,” Khabib said.
“He has a very big chance in the UFC,” he added.
Said is certainly living up to that billing, and with uncertainty in the flyweight ranks, he now stands in a bantamweight class in which he should have more chance of earning a shot at some big-name contenders.
Some examples were on the card at UFC Fortaleza, where the main event saw Brazilian bantamweight contender "Magic" Marlon Moraes submit countryman Raphael Assuncao in the first round, before calling out divisional king TJ Dillashaw.
Said Nurmagomedov will now be aiming to propel himself to that kind of level, after appearing more than comfortable on his step up to 135lbs, having opened his UFC account with a split decision win at flyweight against Justin Scoggins in July of last year – which some deemed a controversial call.
Saturday’s win was far more comprehensive, and was the Makhachkala native's seventh straight in a pro slate which now stands at 13-1.
Nurmagomedov’s only pro loss came back in 2014 in Absolute Championship Berkut at the hands of current UFC flyweight Magomed “Gladiator” Bibulatov, who coincidentally was on Saturday’s card in Fortaleza, where he opened the event with a split decision defeat to Brazil’s Rogerio Bontorin.
Since that defeat, Nurmagomedov has gone from strength to strength in racking up his seven-fight hot streak.
He has previously said that he doesn’t feel any pressure from sharing a surname with the undefeated lightweight champ, vowing that: “Khabib is going to have his own legacy, and I’m going to try to make my own.”
Saturday night was another step towards carving out his own route to glory. Watch this space for more.