3 Reasons Why Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Teammate Saygid Izagakhmaev Could Be a Champion at Lightweight in ONE Championship

Published 10/17/2021, 2:23 AM EDT


ONE Championship’s latest signee, Saygid Izagakhmaev, has been the talk of the fight world as of lately. The news of his arrival was confirmed on social media by former Mixed Martial Arts Lightweight World Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov earlier this week.

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Izagakhmaev has been fighting since July 2012, boasting a 19-2 mixed martial arts record. Moreover, he started competing professionally when he was only 18 years old, earning huge wins against more experienced opponents, finishing seven of them inside the opening stanza.

Before his highly anticipated debut in ONE, we look at why the Dagestani athlete could shake up the organization and one day become a ONE World Champion.

#1 He Trains In A Gym Full Of World Champions

Izagakhmaev hones his craft alongside his good friend Nurmagomedov at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California. The gym is also home to ONE Heavyweight World Champion “Singh” Arjan Bhullar, former titleholder Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold, Islam Mamedov, Islam Makhachev, and Ruslan Magomedov.

The renowned gym has created a squad of World Champions over the past 20 years, and with more retired athletes and world-class coaches present on the mats to guide the next generation of fighters, Izagakhmaev looks like he is at the right place to prepare himself for a five-round battle in the future.

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#2 His Wrestling Is Superb

Just like MMA legend Nurmagomedov and other top athletes at AKA, Izagakhmaev’s strongest and most obvious asset is his wrestling.

The Dagestani native is often seen rolling on the mats with his Russian compatriots for hours and based on videos online, they all seem to enjoy sparring with the new ONE signee.

What’s more, during his fights, Izagakhmaev’s movement on the canvas and his ability to adapt in the stand-up department always catches his opponents off guard. When the contest goes back to the mats, he rarely gives away a position with a greater advantage. In some situations where he does get trapped in tricky situations against grapplers, Izagakhmaev still makes escaping look easy.

Similar to how baseball, football, and basketball are Americans’ favorite sport, wrestling is seen as something every little boy dreams of doing in Dagestan, so it’s no wonder why he’s such a natural at it.

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#3 He’s Got Khabib’s Seal Of Approval

There’s a reason why Nurmagomedov describes Izagakhmaev as his “brother” as opposed to a regular training partner.

Besides sharing the same hometown and sharpening their skills together, the ONE athlete has also been an integral part of Nurmagomedov’s training camp when the former lightweight king went on to win and defend his World Title.

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In past interviews, Nurmagomedov has also shared his views on Izagakhmaev, describing the young athlete as a fighter who could one day become a World Champion.

The 33-year-old who retired after his sublime victory against Justin Gaethje in October of last year also pointed out that he has been impressed by Izagakhmaev’s philosophy: “What’s the difference with whom I fight? You need to win any [sic] opponent, and success does not wait for you.”

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That said, the Dagestani grappling ace should power his way to the top of whichever division he competes in at ONE Championship. There has been no confirmation as to who the Russian’s first opponent will be, but do expect him to produce a masterclass performance when he steps foot inside the ONE Circle for the first time.

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Arman Khan

212 articles

Arman Khan is a UFC author for EssentiallySports. He began following combat sports when Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor competed in 'The Money Fight' in 2017. 'The Notorious' attracted Arman to the UFC, and he became an ardent fan of professional fighting as he could draw parallels with the action from his combat sports experience and break down techniques such as striking and striking defense lucidly for the casual fans.

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