The line for those desiring an in-cage audience with Khabib Nurmagomedov has grown short.
Armed with a perfect 24-0 record and the overwhelming skills to match, Nurmagomedov ranks as one of the top lightweights in mixed martial arts and serves as a threat to anyone in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s cutthroat waters at 155 pounds. Since arriving on the UFC scene as an undefeated prospect in January 2012, the Dagestani brute has rattled off consecutive victories over Kamal Shalorus, Gleison Tibau, Thiago Tavares, Abel Trujillo, Pat Healy, Rafael dos Anjos, Darrell Horcher and Michael Johnson. Those eight men have combined for 168 career wins between them. Now more than nine months removed from his “Beatdown of the Year” performance against Johnson at UFC 205, Nurmagomedov has taken aim at some of the lightweight division’s heaviest hitters, including champion Conor McGregor and top contender Tony Ferguson.
As “The Eagle” awaits word on his next challenge, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He has enjoyed considerable success outside of MMA.
Nurmagomedov is a two-time gold medalist at the Combat Sambo World Championships, winning the 2009 event in Kiev, Ukraine, before doing so a second time a year later in Moscow.
2. Few can match his grappling tools.
Operating out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, Nurmagomedov ranks fifth on the UFC’s all-time list among lightweights with 37 takedowns. According to FightMetric, he trails only Tibau (84), Clay Guida (50), Frankie Edgar (42) and dos Anjos (39) in the category. Moreover, Nurmagomedov set a single-fight UFC record when he recorded 21 of them in his three-round encounter with Trujillo at UFC 160 on May 25, 2013.
3. An oppressive top game has led to eye-popping striking differentials.
In his eight UFC victories, all of them finishes or unanimous decisions, Nurmagomedov has outlanded his opponents by a 569-230 margin in total strikes. The 28-yearold has done the majority of his damage on the ground. Only Tibau -- who stopped all 13 of his attempted takedowns -- managed to outstrike Nurmagomedov, as he outpaced him 46-33 at UFC 148 on July 7, 2012 in Las Vegas. Despite Nurmagomedov sweeping the scorecards with 30-27 marks across the board, it remains his most competitive bout to date. In fact, all three members of the Sherdog.com judging panel sided with Tibau: 30-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
4. Submissions are a significant part of his arsenal.
Nurmagomedov has eight submission victories to his credit: four by triangle choke, two by kimura, one by armbar and one by rear-naked choke.
5. Injuries, inactivity and issues with the scale have curbed some of the enthusiasm around him.
Nurmagomedov has not fought more than three times in a calendar year since 2011, and recurring knee injuries once kept him out of the cage for more than two full years. While he reportedly walks around at more than 190 pounds, Nurmagomedov has failed to meet the lightweight threshold on two different occasions. In addition, his UFC 209 clash with Ferguson was cancelled due to a failed weight cut, costing him a shot at the interim lightweight championship.