Undefeated at a ridiculous 19-0, lightweight prospect Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov continues to keep people talking with every performance. Fresh off of a TKO stoppage of Thiago Tavares earlier this year, the 24 year-old Dagestani native now prepares to fight Abel “Killa” Trujillo this Saturday. Like Nurmagomedov, Trujillo looks to make a statement in the division, and with one UFC win under his belt, Trujillo seems on his way towards achieving that goal.

Still, the well-rounded Nurmagomedov brings something different to the table than did any of Trujillo’s past foes. Give credit to Trujillo for showcasing solid wrestling and considerable knockout power, but Nurmagomedov mixes up his striking, his grappling, and his takedowns as well as any in the division. Remember, before finishing Tavares, Nurmagomedov also neutralized the offense of Gleison Tibau, making him look ineffective at every turn.

Nurmagomedov does hold as tremendous an upside as any, if not more tremendous, but some would argue that he stays where he stands now, even if he impressively annihilates Trujillo. To counter that assumption, consider what it means if Nurmagomedov does finish Trujillo.

A finish would mean a step up in competition for Nurmagomedov. Frankly, the kid appears a bit overdue for one at this point. However, it remains almost certain that Nurmagomedov might not get it, even with a finish over Trujillo. Still, that event would speak more to the depth of the lightweight division and not to Nurmagomedov’s skills.

Hypothetically, however, suppose that Nurmagomedov did get that step up. Who would it come against? Would they tempt him with a potential crack at someone from the bottom of the top 10? Would they give him the chance to fight someone like Jorge Masvidal, a former divisional contender with a knack for shutting down prospects?

One would prove wise to at least consider a bout with either Masvidal or someone that poses the threats a Masvidal-type might. Think about the two main questions surrounding Nurmagomedov, and it makes perfect sense to actually line up the surging prospect with the former Strikeforce lightweight title contender, or a similar caliber of fighter.

Undefeated at a ridiculous 19-0, lightweight prospect Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov continues to keep people talking with every performance. Fresh off a TKO stoppage of Thiago Tavares earlier this year, the 24-year-old Dagestani native now prepares to fight Abel “Killa” Trujillo this Saturday.

Like Nurmagomedov, Trujillo looks to make a statement in the division, and with one UFC win under his belt, he seems on his way towards achieving that goal. However, the well-rounded Nurmagomedov brings something different to the table than did any of Trujillo’s past foes. Give credit to Trujillo for showcasing solid wrestling and considerable knockout power, but Nurmagomedov mixes up his striking, grappling and takedowns as well as anyone in the division. Remember, before finishing Tavares, Nurmagomedov also neutralized the offense of Gleison Tibau, making him look ineffective at every turn.

Nurmagomedov does hold as tremendous an upside as any fighter, although some would argue that he remains where he stands now, even if he impressively annihilates Trujillo. To counter that assumption, consider what it means if Nurmagomedov does finish Trujillo.

A finish would mean a step up in competition for the lightweight. Frankly, the kid appears a bit overdue for one at this point. However, it remains almost certain that Nurmagomedov might not get it, even with a finish over Trujillo. Yet that would speak more to the depth of the lightweight division and not to Nurmagomedov’s skills.

Hypothetically, however, suppose that Nurmagomedov did get that step up. Who would it come against? Would they tempt him with a potential crack at someone from the bottom of the top 10? Would they give him the chance to fight someone like Jorge Masvidal, a former divisional contender with a knack for shutting down prospects?

One would prove wise to at least consider a bout with either Masvidal or someone that poses a similar threat. Think about the two main questions surrounding Nurmagomedov, and it makes perfect sense to actually line up the surging prospect with the former Strikeforce lightweight title contender or a similar caliber of fighter.

Besides a proven wrestling game, “Gamebred” can strike and he can keep the pressure on his opponents from bell to bell. Nurmagomedov can pressure opponents just the same, but he never needed to stay as busy as he would need to against the likes of Masvidal.

Also, consider the way Nurmagomedov fights on the feet. While he knows how to remain active, he still appears to occasionally throw with some reckless abandon, which might lead to him suffering knockouts against a number of elite UFC lightweights. Against Masvidal, who arguably sits outside the top 10 now, it may not lead to a knockout, but he would get taken down at will if he utilized that approach.

Then again, if Nurmagomedov’s performances prove anything, it’s how much he improves with every fight. The weaknesses he might show now may not even play a factor if or when he ever fights someone with the same skills as Masvidal. However, even if a fight with Masvidal is not in the cards, Nurmagomedov needs a step up in competition in general if he hopes to break through to the top of the division.

Photo: Khabib Nurmagomedov (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.