Khabib Nurmagomedov’s ability to maul his opponents was unlike anything ever seen in the UFC before.
“He’s the most terrifying lightweight contender in the world,” Joe Rogan said about the Russian a year before he became UFC lightweight champion.
“He’s just on such another level [of grappling] that the odds of beating him drop significantly after the first minute-and-a-half.”
Nurmagomedov forced his opponent to tap in each of his final three fights before he announced his retirement from MMA.
He placed Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje under so much pressure that they had to submit.
His style didn’t always please everyone, though.
After his win over Gaethje at UFC 254, Major League Baseball star Josh Donaldson labelled the 29-0 fighter "boring".
“I think Khabib is one of the most boring fighters in the world,” Donaldson told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
Donaldson might not have said that had he watched Nurmagomedov in action 10 years ago.
Footage of the Eagle unleashing brutal headbutts during a fight in Russia in 2010 has surfaced.
Nurmagomedov was competing against Ali Bagov at the Golden Fist Russia event in Moscow.
Headbutts were legal in the competition - and Nurmagomedov used them to devastating effect.
He used the same grappling approach that we became accustomed to seeing in the UFC to take Bagov down, before landing several headbutts.
Ahead of his fight against Gaethje in Abu Dhabi, Nurmagomedov opened up on the difference between Russian and American wrestling.
The 32-year-old believes that Americans are more likely to give up on a certain approach if it fails once, whereas he was always prepared to go again and again and again until he achieved his goal.
“I told [Daniel Cormier] today: 'When you fight with Stipe Miocic last time, you grabbed his leg one time, and you take him down. He got up very quickly, and you're finished.' All other minutes [were] standup," Nurmagomedov said, per Insider.
"Between me and 'DC' is a big difference.
"If I'm going to try to take him down once and he defends, I'm going to go all night. This is the big difference between US wrestling and Dagestan wrestling.
"They all good when they stand up, but when I grab them, it changes a little bit. I think more than Dustin and Conor and other guys, [Gaethje] knows to wrestle.
"It's going to be a little bit hard. I prepared myself to try to take him down 100 times.”
- Thread: Khabib perfectly predicting UFC fights
- Khabib changed his submission vs Gaethje
- Conor McGregor mocks Justin Gaethje