UFC 280 is littered with high-level wrestlers, with so many Russian and Dagestani fighters coming to Abu Dhabi.
Two of these men will meet each other, Abubakar Nurmagomedov, cousin to the former champion from Dagestan, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and rising middleweight fighter, will fight Gadzhi Omargadzhiev, a Russian mixed martial artist who amassed a perfect 12-0 record before earning his shot with a win on the Contender Series. He has since sustained his first pro loss in his UFC debut but will be looking to rebound at UFC 280.
Nurmagomedov vs. Omargadzhiev will feature on the UFC 280 prelims on Saturday. Fight fans can watch this fight live on ESPN+ before tuning into the ESPN+ PPV later in the day to watch Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev, Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw, Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley, and more.
The more experienced Nurmagomedov will come in as the favorite at -180 this Saturday. Those looking to bet on him will have to wager $180 per $100 they wish to win should he come out on top.
Nurmagomedov is a very high-level wrestler who, in recent fights, has developed very slick striking skills on top. He sticks primarily to the basics, without fancy footwork or overly large movement, which allows him to maintain a good pace and always stay within range to counter to lead. Like his cousin Khabib, Abubakar Nurmagomedov strikes in a peculiar way. He will keep a very tight right guard but keep his left loose and active, throwing almost all of his offense from the lead such as his jab and overhand left, and then occasionally fire his right straight over overhand full force. However, if he ventures to switch stance, expect his left body or head kick to follow soon. His weight is much more evenly distributed than most fighters, with emphasis on their jab and boxing, because Nurmagomedov tends to lean away from punches while using his lead to maintain range if things get too chaotic.
On the mat, Nurmgomedov is a monster, he has a great fluid double-leg shot and he turns the corner to secure side control rather than enter the guard. That being said, he will often give up one leg to establish half guard instead, where he can stay heavy on the hips while he hunts for a choke. He has a great transition in which he goes to under-over position and posts on his forehead in order to isolate and attack the head and arm-choke; however, he is yet to finish a fight this way. His record is made up of various submissions, armbars, triangles, a kimura, and a rear naked choke, however, his most recorded method to victory is TKO, in which instead of hunting the submission he maintains the half guard or cage control and hammers away until the ref steps in. It is notable, however that his first and only UFC loss came by way of triangle, as he does tend to lean into his posts, so he should be wary.
Omargadzhiev has a bit more of a conventional striking style. He is very fast and also has a nice body kick, however his most dangerous strikes come by way of his powerful overhand right. He will attack it on the end of his combinations but he also uses it as a counter when he can catch his opponent’s kick, both utilizing it as a power strike and a takedown. Omargadzhiev also utilizes a wider range of kicks than Nurmagomedov, he will throw spinning hook kicks and long head kicks, however, these could be dangerous against a wrestler like Nurmagomedov, a threat that has not typically been present for Omargadzhiev due to his own wrestling prowess.
That being said, Omargadzhiev is a very, very high-level wrestler. He likes to attack double legs and immediately looks to trap the legs with his own before scooting into mount. On top, he has great hip pressure, even if his opponent can get back to their guard he is good at stacking them and towing the line between enough room to land ground and pound without giving them so much as to allow them to create a scramble. His ground and pound is very big, he will pull back and wind up his shots so that his punches and elbows land with high impact.
This is a very fascinating fight because both men are similar in ways, especially in their well-roundedness. Neither man usually has to contend with wrestlers on their level, but this time the stakes will be high. I expect Nurmagomedov to have a slight wrestling advantage in his ability to advance position and his work against the cage, although Omargadzhiev’s vicious ground-and-pound style is a problem for anyone.
On the feet, I give the power to Omargadzhiev, but I think that his larger movements like his spinning kicks, and especially his big overhangs, offer Nurmagomedov the opportunity to parry and slide just out of range in smaller and more efficient movements. This allows him to return with slick jabs and maintain a pace more suited to the overall fight, ultimately bringing him the victory.
Prediction: Abubakar Nurmagomedov to win (-180 odds at MyBookie)