It’s no secret that UFC lightweight #1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov possesses some of the most dominant wrestling, and lethal ground and pound in the entire sport of MMA. In addition to holding the UFC record for most takedowns landed in a fight, Nurmagomedov is one of the few men in the UFC with an undefeated record.
Throughout the course of his UFC run, Nurmagomedov has displayed not only phenomenal takedowns, but also the rare ability to completely control his opponents on the ground while landing brutal ground and pound shots that he uses to either open up submissions, or finish his opponents.
Ahead of Nurmagomedov’s UFC 209 interim lightweight title fight with Tony Ferguson on March 4th, ONE FC champion Ben Askren broke down Nurmagoemdov’s wrestling in an interview with MMAFighting:
“The one thing — I do this — that’s undervalued in fighting is the ability to be hit at and stay calm and make contact with your opponent. Because when you’re going from wrestling to MMA, that is the difference. In wrestling, you have to make contact or you’re stalling. In fighting, if you’re a wrestler and they’re not, the whole point, for them, is not to make contact with you, right? Once you make contact, they’re going to get taken down and beaten up.
Some guys like Khabib have figured out how to make contact with taking very little damage. The second part of that would be — and this is funny, a lot of former wrestlers don’t do this because it’s not a freestyle thing, but a folkstyle thing — he is able to control so well. That’s a folkstyle thing. You have to escape or keep them down depending on what position you’re in. In freestyle, all you have to do is turn. You don’t actually have to control them.
The second part is, once he gets them down, he controls the sh*t out of them. Like I said, you don’t usually see that out of international wrestlers.
A great example of that is Yoel Romero. He’s a freestyle wrestler. He gets takedowns when he wants to, but his control isn’t amazing because he never did that part of it.”
Askren then pointed out the difference between Nurmagomedov, and other elite wrestlers, saying:
“He’s so good at the wrestling and the control. With that, if you actually apply that, it’s so hard — you have to be at such a certain level — to stop it. If you’re not at that level, he just trumps everything you have. Even if you’re really good and Tony Ferguson is one of those guys, he’s good everywhere. He doesn’t really have a huge weakness, right? But he’s not really amazing in one place. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but that’s kind of how I feel.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/25/2017.