‘He looked amazing’: Fans hail Umar Nurmagomedov as UFC star promises more - and cousin Khabib says he will help him build (VIDEO)
Experts and fans have predicted a dazzling UFC future for Umar Nurmagomedov after his resounding victory over Sergey Morozov, adding praise for his cousin, Khabib, as the pair reflected on an explosive debut for the Russian star.
Former lightweight champion Khabib watched on as his relative choked former M-1 champion Morozov unconscious in the second round, looking relieved as he tapped the canvas before entering the ring to embrace both men and their teams.
The victorious newcomer vowed to continue training hard and become an even more formidable fighter in the aftermath of his exceptional performance, which left viewers marveling at the unbeaten prospect's potential.
"After Umar Nurmagomedov’s win, Khabib goes in the octagon to hug him, then walks over to his opponent, Sergey Morozov, and his team to give them a hug, too," noted reporter Helen Yee in the minutes after the concussive end to the showdown. "All class."
ESPN's Ariel Helwani told his Twitter following of more than 934,000 that Nurmagomedov had made a "fantastic debut", gushing: "He looked amazing."
Fighters were also impressed. "Morozov did the right thing to defend the rear naked choke," said Aljamain Sterling, the number one ranked fighter in Nurmagomedov's bantamweight class.
"But Nurmagomedov just kept the constant pressure and finished beautifully. This man is going to be a problem. Welcome to the UFC, Umar."
Fantastic debut by Umar Nurmagomedov, who wins via second-round RNC. He looked amazing.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 20, 2021
The fact that 22 y.o Umar Nurmagomedov just smoked a veteran M-1 champion is insane— MMA Gone Wild🥋 (@mmagonewild) January 20, 2021
The uncanny timing and style of Nurmagomedov's win, coming on the anniversary of his ally's debut UFC victory and with the same finish, was noted by many fans and the retired great himself, who translated Umar's reflections on his bow.
"Nine years ago this day, 20th of January 2012, I beat my opponent like this with this choke," Khabib proudly observed afterwards.
"Today he did this, but I did in the third round. Umar did it in the second round.
Khabib is one awesome,wholesome and a legendary rolemodel of a fighter! pic.twitter.com/tKa0ICRmcl— KliffySpliffy (@KliffySpliffy) January 20, 2021
"He is very excited about the future because he has to work a lot - he has to improve a lot of things in his game.
"He's very happy to have finished this guy and he's very happy to show the world that he can kick, punch, wrestle and grapple.
"At the same time, he's a little bit sad because it was not his best performance and he believes he can show you guys better.
"Yes, it's very big. Not only for us but for Umar. It's good for him in terms of his emotional maturity - a very important experience to gain.
"Entering the octagon over and over again makes you a different animal, a different fighter.
Sensational debut for Umar Nurmagomedov and always good to see Khabib and DC together. Believe this also the first time since retirement, we've seen .@TeamKhabib step into the UFC octagon. #UFCFightIsland8pic.twitter.com/gsAYxLajHB— Soumik Datta (@Thesoumikdatta9) January 20, 2021
Khabib's cousin Umar Nurmagomedov is a stud. Also very classy, choked a dude out from the bottom and then laid perfectly still while his fallen opponent regained consciousness. https://t.co/A1ok8TiRrE— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) January 20, 2021
Umar Nurmagomedov gets the finish, fantastic debut as his cousin and UFC lightweight champion emotionally celebrates in the corner #UFCFightIsland8— Niall McGrath (@niallmcgrath4) January 20, 2021
"Today you could see how Umar rocked him and ran over him trying to finish the fight right away. He won't make the same mistake in his tenth fight. He will be a sniper not a machine gunner.
"In my opinion, he doesn't understand what happened and his feeling. In a couple of days, he will."
Umar vowed to be a champion and pledged to demonstrate the improvements he plans to make in future fights.
"In the beginning, I was a little bit tired - I don't know why," he admitted. "It means a lot for me and my family."
Few fighters are likely to genuinely relish the risk of becoming the 14th name on Nurmagomedov's winning record.
"Sensational debut for Umar Nurmagomedov," said MMA writer Soumik Datta, adding that it was "always good" to see Khabib and former UFC champion Daniel Cormier, who was on post-fight interviewing duty, together.
"Believe this also the first time since [his] retirement [last October] that we've seen Khabib step into the UFC octagon."