By Krysten Maier
Refined but deadly, unconventional but undefeated—UFC fighter and Nutrabolics athlete Khabib Nurmagomedov may be understated but is certainly not to be underestimated. Standing with twenty-four consecutive victories in the Octagon, Nurmagomedov has proven his worth and his raw talent time and time again, demonstrating that he is a near unstoppable powerhouse of his sport.
“I dominate. This is what I do,” states Khabib “The Eagle” coolly. Having never tapped out across eight triumphant wins in the cage, defeating eight competitors by KO and a further eight by submission, the man has earned the right to demonstrate such a refined confidence. Nurmagomedov has become an absolute titan in the ring, a status that could potentially line him up with a direct shot at the reigning lightweight title holder. But The Eagle’s success was not a rocket-fuelled blast to the top; it was a cool and calculated ascent. Khabib did not simply decide to become one of the best MMA fighters in living memory—it’s in his blood.
NATURAL BORN KILLER
Growing up in the remote mountains of Dagestan, Khabib started his training from early childhood under the tutelage of his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. Himself an accomplished athlete and decorated veteran, Abdulmanap became a hard-as-nails trainer for Khabib and his brothers; running his own mixed martial arts studio. “My father created a great foundation for me when I was a child,” Khabib recollects, “to try to become the best fighter in the world.” Khabib considers his father the greatest inspiration in his life.
As well as initiating his son into the fundamentals of judo and combat sambo in the gym, Abdulmanap also saw fit to throw Khabib in the ring with a live grizzly from the age of nine! What better grappling partner for a UFC beast in training than an actual bear cub? Though unconventional this incredibly adaptive approach to fighting and instilled concept of the literal struggle for survival have set the tone for Khabib’s somber confidence in training and beyond.
A HEAD STRONG CONTENDER
Not only a test of physical strength, exercises like these were designed to push Khabib’s mental endurance and shape his character. This and many other factors contributed to strengthen Nurmagomedov’s will. Growing up in a region riddled with political tensions and the constant threat of civil war, Khabib was being raised and trained for competitive fighting, but with the mindset that he may actually have to, one day, fight for his very life. This has translated into an impressive mental intensity and extreme focus in the ring.
Being a devout Sunni Muslim, Nurmagomedov was also raised without the distractions of vices like alcohol or drugs, helping shape his sense of strict discipline with his exercise regimens. When asked what separates Khabib from every other fighter in his division he replied, “My mental toughness. My mental game is the strongest.” It is evident that his upbringing molded this man into the perfect competitor—an unshakable mind with a fear of nothing.
UPPING HIS GAME
As Khabib Nurmagomedov grew up and transitioned from wrestling bears and sparring in the gym into the world of professional athleticism, his training regime also evolved and became an integral part of his life. Systematically mastering new techniques, Khabib has a talent for leveraging the best parts of many fighting styles. After becoming a marked champion in Sambo – a Russian martial art and combat sport meaning “self-defense without weapons” – in his home country, Nurmagomedov turned his focus to the global MMA scene and worked towards entering the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“Chasing UFC Gold drives me,” explains Nurmagomedov. “I am focused on being the best so I must train to be the best.” The man trains three times daily, ensuring to work all the different elements of the game equally in order to best prepare himself before each upcoming match-up. A meticulous analyst, Nurmagomedov customizes his training to concentrate on his weaknesses. “After every fight I go back and look to see any holes in my game and how i can improve and I work on it.”
“I DOMINATE. THIS IS WHAT I DO. - KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV”
RIGOROUS TRAINING REGIME
In addition to targeting certain muscle groups and ground-fighting methods, The Eagle ensures not to neglect the importance of cardiovascular stamina. There is a lot of sprint work integrated into his training routine and he even takes the time to engage in recreational soccer: “It helps with footwork and agility.” His typical day would consist of a 30-minute run, lunch, and sparring. Every other night he would engage in grappling or striking, and don’t forget a relaxing weekly steam in a Russian sauna.
While the MMA training landscape is constantly evolving with new devices and technology, Khabib considers himself distinctly old-school in his regime, taking a straight-forward approach to nutrition in particular. He emphasizes the importance of a good clean diet, supplemented by Nutrabolics products, specifically Isobolic protein and Anabolic State for BCAAs. “Nutrabolics has been great. Before I never [took] any supplements. Now [I find] it helps my recovery, so I can train harder.”
THE EAGLE IN THE CAGE
Nurmagomedov’s hard work in the gym absolutely reflects in his matches. With a natural predisposition towards wrestling, which he considers the most lethal of the martial arts, Khabib prefers to take his opponents down during a fight and beat them up, rather than striking from a standing position. In a match, The Eagle puts the pressure on immediately and looks for the finish. “I always focus on what I will do to my opponent never what he’s going to do to me.”
Just imagine yourself in the cage, nose to nose with the 5’ 10” 155 lb muscle-bound Russian, his dark stony eyes staring you down. The bell rings and he comes at you. You grapple with him as long as you can until he takes you down. Then he comes in with the overhand right, left, right, right, right. A choke hold knocks you into submission and it’s all over. Now you know how Nurmagomedov’s many victims might have felt like!
“I’m looking to seek greatness and to destroy,” The Eagle states simply of his fighting goals. Khabib is the #1 ranked fighter in lightweight division, but he still has more to prove to fans, and to himself. He wants to be remembered as the greatest fighter of all time. He’s after the glory of championship. He wants the belt.
OUT FOR BLOOD
It is evident from many interviews and post-match shakedowns that taking on current UFC champ Conor McGregor is Nurmagomedov’s number one priority. Their rivalry has been building for months and has all but reached a boiling point. Khabib is just waiting for his shot to dethrone the reigning king. McGregor seems to be making excuses for avoiding the bout, though it seems like it is only a matter of time until UFC sets the match up. With Khabib’s flawless record, who wouldn’t be somewhat reluctant to take him on? Khabib, on the other hand, shows no hesitancy to fight McGregor: “He is my chicken.”
McGregor is presently preoccupied, pursuing a match with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather. Nurmagomedov has settled on fighting Tony Ferguson for the interim title belt, but it’s well known that the target on Mcgregor’s back won’t be going away anytime soon. In the meantime, the world is left wondering how, as Nurmagomdov so eloquently puts it, 6 million Irish will contend with 150 million Russian. How will The Notorious’ brash charisma measure up to The Eagle’s quiet confidence? It will be definitely be the event to watch, just as Khabib Nurmagomedov, the silent assassin, the destroyer from Dagestan, is now the man to watch on the MMA scene.