Russian lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov has taken the UFC by storm in just two fights with the company. The 24-year-old prospect has already established himself as a threat at 155 pounds.

Coming from a Sambo background, Nurmagomedov has already knocked off established veterans Kamal Shalorus and Gleison Tibau. In fact, the young Russian is undefeated in 18 mixed martial arts bouts.

Many are already speculating that Nurmagomedov may be a future threat to Benson Henderson’s UFC lightweight title reign. This is especially true since he is so young and can only improve from here.

So does the Russian have what it takes to compete with the UFC lightweight champion?

To start with, Nurmagomedov has a very underrated grappling game, especially with his offensive wrestling. He has out-wrestled Shalorus, a guy that is famous for his wrestling background, having even competed at an Olympic level. Nurmagomedov’s quickness and the angles he takes when he shoots caught the Iranian off guard and had him on the bottom for a large part of their fight.

Add to that the fact that Nurmagomedov is a black belt in judo, and his takedown prowess is competitive with that of Henderson. He adds trips and throws to his arsenal, making him even more of a threat to plant Henderson on his back if they ever fought.

The Russian is not just a competent grappler, but he is also a solid striker as well. He spends a good portion of time training at AMA Fight Club with guys like Frankie Edgar, so his boxing skills are sharpening up. In two outings in the Octagon, he has shown aggression and power with his fists. This is especially true against Shalorus, and it shocked many people who thought the Iranian had the striking advantage.

Nurmagomedov is definitely a well-rounded fighter with a lot of room for improvement room considering his youth. If he keeps winning fights and staying on the grind, the sky is the limit for this Russian prospect. However, he needs more experience before he takes on a veteran like Henderson. Henderson has been around the block a few times in his day and has taken on some very high-level competition.  It’s too early for the Russian to get the call to fight the champ, but that day could come further down the road.

Photo: Khabib Nurmagomedov (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.

  • Todd Atkins

    His father was Abulmanap was a national champion wrestler in the USSR and the current Combat Sambo for coach for the National Team. Rustam Khabilov is also one if his many pupils. You will be seeing a lot more animals coming out of that area in due time.