The Severe Spotlight: Umar Nurmagomedov

It is important that as a community we choose not to be luddites. When we are shown something new, something fresh and something innovative, it is often important that we embrace and celebrate it for what it is. Progress.

Arman Tsarukyan and Mateusz Gamrot combined on Saturday night to deliver an insight into the future of MMA. The contest was above all a beautiful display of artwork on the patented canvas. It is now undeniable, that at the highest realms of our sport, MMA has morphed into its own martial art. It has evolved from the smorgasbord of individual embryonic disciplines from individual parental regions and via the osmosis of blunt bone force trauma been moulded into its own organism.

The main event, had everything you would expect from this Frankenstein art. The dynamic and fluid grappling, the scrambles that occurred from that grappling. The striking exchanges, the transitions between phases of fighting. The dictation of range, the constant struggle for inches was all tantamount to the lashing of native tongues in a war of words.

A visceral experience for everyone.

Shavkat Rakhmonov moved to 16-0 with a dominant grappling display over the entrusted holder of the key that takes you into the upper echelon of 170lb – Neil Magny. Rakhmonov again showed that at the highest level, offering dilemma to an opponent will provide opportunity, and opportunity came with Rakhmonov wrapping his arms around Neil Magny’s neck late in the second to secure a guillotine submission.

Josh Parisian picked up his second win in the UFC with a finish over Alan Baudot. Thiago Moises locked up a slick standing rear naked choke in a dominant win over Christos Giagos. The feature of this article Umar Nurmagomedov outclassed Nate Maness, and we will arrive at that shortly. The main card was rounded out with a shutout performance from Chris Curtis over grappling legend Rodolfo Vieira.

The prelims saw wins for City Kickboxing’s Carlos Ulberg, Shayilan Nuerdanbieke and Sergey Morozov. Cody Durden finish JP Buys in devastating fashion. Mario Bautista locked up his first submission win with his first submission attempt in the UFC over veteran Brian Kelleher, and Vanessa Demopoulos picked up a win over Jinh Yu Frey.

Umar Nurmagomedov strolled onto the walkway of the UFC’s Apex arena, shouldered by cousin and coach Khabib Nurmagomedov floating on the cloud of a 14-fight winning streak. His opponent, waiting for him in the cage, whilst riding a 3-fight winning streak, sported a record of 14-1. Nate Maness is a fighter that might not be a household name; but is a good fighter. Stopping Tony Gravely is not a simple task, and Maness did just that in his last outing.

This fight, however, was one way traffic. Khabib Nurmagomedov has a blueprint, that blueprint set by his father Abdulmanap. The gameplan is simple, take your opponent down and maul them positionally, bludgeoning them with whatever limbs you have free for 75% of the fight. Drain them of the precious, high value energy in their engines. Burn the competitive will from the soul of their being and score so highly on the score cards that the last 25% maybe, just maybe you can have a little fun.

Umar Nurmagomedov executed that blueprint perfectly. The beginning of the first round saw Maness find himself on his back swiftly from a gorgeous inside trip. From here Nurmagomedov sat to work of opening the bodylock closed guard that had been wrapped around his waist. Once open, he began his route to dominate the hips of Maness by way of a bodylock. When and only when he had forced his opponent to accept bottom position, does Nurmagomedov begin to fight for upper body grips.

The oscillation of dilemmas is most evident from here, Nurmagomedov offers a menu of an Americana, ground and pound served with a side of positional dominance, or back exposure if you can stomach it. Maness, to his credit did well to turn this into a tasting menu, ensuring he kept underhooks when he had them, tucking his elbows to reduce the leverage on any Americana setup, and doing his best to keep his back to the mat.

The zero-risk nature to the Nurmagomedov game is both exhilarating and exhausting to watch, if at any point Maness managed to disrupt the positional dominance, Nurmagomedov was happy to go right back to the top of the chain: hip dominance and move back into a variation of dominant position with a better grip set than he left.

Round two was a rinse and repeat of the first, takedown, pass and reset if something wasn’t perfect. In the second, from side control added to the menu was a head and arm choke setup, the ability to traverse through a myriad of threats from side control and not secure one, again shows the level of awareness from Maness, but make no mistake this was a one-sided mauling.

Round three saw Nurmagomedov allow himself a reprieve of fun, the primary objectives of the blueprint completed. That fun included a gorgeous back leg front kick to the jaw, a few spinning side and hook kicks, some glancing roundhouse kicks gracing Maness’ skull like silk. With half a round left, Nurmagomedov brings Maness back to the mat, this time with the objective of drowning him. Maness did not succumb to the pressure of the waves, and made it to the final bell, but he will be coughing up water for weeks.