Will Khabib Nurmagomedov Get Back into Title Contention?

Khabib Nurmagomedov after training. Photo Courtesy: D.Quarick
Khabib Nurmagomedov after training. Photo Courtesy: D.Quarick

By Kyler Kuehler

Number two-ranked lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov will face number four-ranked contender Edson Barboza at UFC 219 on December 30.

Since Nurmagomedov’s debut against Kamal Shalorus in January of 2012, he compiled a UFC record of 8-0. Overall, he holds a perfect career of 24-0 from his kickboxing, sambo, pankration, judo and wrestling background. Seems like a legit threat to the lightweight division.

Indeed, but his big weight cuts have always played a major effect in receiving his long-awaited title shot. Most recent was against Tony Ferguson, where he was forced out from their interim lightweight title bout at 209.

Yes, the weight cuts have always been a big issue with him.

But now he has a chance to possibly receive his title fight once again against Edson Barboza. Heading into this fight Nurmagomedov comes in as the favorite of -265 with Barboza +225. Makes sense, since he is undefeated and has some of the greatest wrestling and cardio in the sport.

However, Barboza contains great combinations of boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, taekwondo, and jiu-jitsu. These techniques led him to a record of 19-4 and appear to be a great threat to Nurmagomedov’s undefeated career. Even his 11 knockout/TKO victories give us a wakeup call. He has the ability and power to finished the Russian with one clean hit. If he does not get taken down, which will be a real challenge to avoid.

Nurmagomedov’s striking might not be as great as Barboza’s, but his wrestling is out of this world. Bringing the fight to the ground, Nurmagomedov could wake everyone up and prove he is the future lightweight king.

After all, Barboza holds only one submission, so it’s clear his grappling is not as dangerous as his striking.

Now Nurmagomedov looks in good hands, but Barboza does bring great speed into his fights as well. Yes, Nurmagomedov has speed too, but not so well with his striking.

If Barboza brings this combination to the fight then Nurmagomedov’s title contention will slip through his fingers once again.

But Nurmagomedov is a real beast and his cardio is much greater than Barboza’s. The only way Barboza could win looks to be in the first round with a quick, clean chin shot.

If the fight goes to the ground or makes it past the first, the Nurmagomedov we know will destroy Barboza.

By the looks of the fight, Nurmagomedov could very well earn another title shot if he wins.

But let’s also hope he makes weight and not almost die like before.