If the old saying is true that we learn more about ourselves in defeat than we do in victory, then it’s possible Khabib Nurmagomedov does not yet know himself very well. The 26-year-old mixed martial artist — a practicing Muslim from Russia who has reportedly turned down fights if they conflict with Ramadan — is undefeated as a professional fighter at 22-0 with seven knockouts and eight submission wins.
Nurmagomedov is not quite a marquee name in the United States, as he built much of his spotless resume in Russia and Ukraine. He made his U.S. debut in 2012 after signing a deal with Ultimate Fighting Championship and has since gone 6-0 in UFC, including a unanimous decision win over Rafael dos Anjos on April 19 of this year. While dos Anjos would go on to knock out former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson four months after that loss, Nurmagomedov has not fought since then, partially due to a knee injury.
Skilled in the fighting disciplines of judo, Sambo and freestyle wrestling, Nurmagomedov is a two-time world champion in Combat Sambo, a world champion in grappling, and a European champion in hand-to-hand combat and a European champion in the ancient, brutal art of pankration. Nurmagomedov was named 2013 Breakthrough Fighter of the Year by MMA authority Sherdog.com, and 2014 Fighter to Watch by MMAInsider.net. Here he is in action: