Khabib Nurmagomedov seems to have turned over a new leaf ahead of his co-main event slot against Edson Barboza this Saturday at UFC 219.
Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) is looking to continue his astounding win-streak in what should be a title contention shot for the lightweight title, be it interim or otherwise.
With an array of remarkable wins, last-minute injuries, drastic weight-cuts, and long periods of inactivity, Nurmagomedov has had a long, illustrious career slightly marred with controversy. However, a recent Instagram post from Khabib’s nutritionist Tyler Minton, who also boasts the employment of champions Max Holloway and Daniel Cormier, shows Khabib looking very lean ahead of the weekend weigh-in.
The UFC now insists on fighters being no more than 10% heavier than their weight-class limit when arriving in Las Vegas. And Khabib seems to be right on track weighing in a pound lighter than requested. Though fans have been disappointed before with Khabib’s inconsistent weight-cuts, one can’t help be hopeful that perhaps this new nutritional regime will have fans confident of his appearance on Saturday night. “The Eagle” has even released a new set of videos on YouTube documenting his Californian camp, giving us all reassurance that there will be no mistakes this time around.
Nurmagomedov’s most recent bout saw a dismantling of Michael Johnson in November last year at UFC 205. However, fans were given much to discuss as a hole in Khabib’s game quickly became evident. Johnson’s hands were sometimes too quick for Khabib, as he was startled with numerous punches to the head.
However, in true Nurmagomedov fashion, Johnson was eventually taken down and submitted. It looked like Khabib was finally getting his chance at a title against Tony Ferguson at UFC 209, before another mishap arose.
His nutritional discipline had him hospitalized due to a dangerous weight-cut; this being the third time this arranged bout with Ferguson was canceled. Some say his tiramisu indulgence was responsible, however, one can’t help think that his years of increased grappling experience, coupled with his outrageous training ethic forced his body to naturally become thicker. Let’s not forget that Khabib fought at welterweight in previous organizations.
Nurmagomedov’s upcoming bout against the ultra-quick Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) poses arguably his biggest threat thus far. Known for his lightning-fast kicks and knees, and with the record of the first wheel-kick knockout, Barboza has the opportunity to expose Khabib’s weaknesses in his stand-up by blasting his takedown defenses with his flurries. However, if this fails, it is highly likely Edson will meet the same demise as his predecessors in the octagon.
Khabib is currently a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose California, training with the likes of Luke Rockhold and light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, as well as many of his native Dagestani team-mates. From his four-part YouTube vlog series, he commends both Rockhold and Cormier for their ground-game and how much he has learned from them. “I myself ask advice from the guys and Luke and Cormier help,” he explained, “we learn from each other”. Khabib himself recently opened up his own gym called Eagles MMA in Moscow, Russia.
So it seems that, after many highs and lows, fans of “The Eagle” can be firmly excited about his return. It has been over a year since he gave his last highlight ground-game annihilation and, for some, it wasn’t enough. To see Khabib silence Barboza will give fans more confidence in his overall fight-game and add more fuel to his fire as he edges ever closer to the title he truly deserves.