Think Johny Hendricks has a great wrestling pedigree? He’s
got nothing on Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Growing up in Russia, the rising UFC lightweight used to wrestle
bears. No, really. There’s even a video – not-so-aptly
set to some bizarre techno-rap remix – of a 9-year-old
Nurmagomedov tangling with one.
Sure, the cub on the video looks cute and cuddly. But it’s
still a bear. As humans, here’s what we know about bears:
We’d rather not be anywhere around them. It doesn’t
matter if it’s black, brown or polar.
Maybe things are different in Dagestan, where Nurmagomedov was
reared. Perhaps this little fella was merely a pet and in Russia
wrestling with your bear is the same thing as playing fetch with a
dog here in the states.
A more likely scenario is that Nurmagomedov was just raised to
be a bad ass, which has segued nicely into a promising UFC career.
Look at that textbook single-leg takedown and his defense when the
bear gets his back. C’mon. It’s that kind of training
that allowed Nurmagomedov to land a UFC-record 21 takedowns against
Abel Trujillo in May.
Sixteen years after scrapping with the bear, the 25-year-old is
a perfect 21-0 as an MMA fighter and has finished 14 of those
He’s coming off a decision win at UFC 165 over Pat Healy,
whose facial hair might have reminded him of his furry friend from
back in Dagestan. Rumor has it that Gilbert Melendez could be next
up for Nurmagomedov in a fight that could propel him into a
top-contender spot in the 155-pound division.
Melendez might have significantly better boxing, but taking on
“El Nino” in the UFC just doesn’t seem as scary
as wrestling a bear in the Russian wilderness.