Nurmagomedov wrestles a bear

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

bouts.

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.