Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Kamaru Usman: Can the Eagle Outshine the Nigerian Nightmare at Welterweight?

Published 02/15/2021, 12:30 PM EST
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia celebrates his victory over Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Khabib Nurmagomedov has seemingly retired as an undefeated fighter with a 29-0 record. However, there are a lot of fighters that people still name to see n the Octagon against Khabib. But it seems some of the more tempting matchups may exist at Welterweight instead of Lightweight where Khabib did the damage across his career.

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The most commonly requested name is Georges St-Pierre. However, that fight looks more and more unlikely. So, what about another Welterweight great in current champion Kamaru Usman? Even though Khabib is unwilling to move up and fight at 175, what would happen if Khabib and Usman were to meet at 175 in a fictitious world?

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Khabib is known to be heavier than what a normal 155-er would be, with many suggesting divisional changes for him when he was active. If he could bulk up and get the body of a genuine 175-pound fighter, could he still be the dominant force that he is?

Usman has a career record of 18-1, while Khabib sits at an undefeated 29-0.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Kamaru Usman: Could Welterweight be a different game?

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kamaru Usman are two of the most elite grapplers in the UFC. However, Khabib does not have a conventional amateur wrestling or BJJ style, but he employs Sambo wrestling to do his damage. Usman is more of an amateur wrestler, but easily one of the best in the UFC.

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Khabib’s sambo style means that he uses his physical advantages over smaller lightweights to control them on the ground. Khabib has only really struggled against fighters that were stronger than him, like Gleison Tibau. Usman would definitely be the stronger one against Khabib, which would neutralize Khabib’s style.

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However, Sambo wrestling is also about technique and brute strength isn’t all that breaks it. However, Usman is one of the more skilled ground fighters in the UFC and he could genuinely give Khabib a lot of trouble there.

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Both have average striking. While both have evident KO power, they use their strikes as cover for their wrestling. We have seen Usman fight more elite wrestlers than Khabib, so it would be interesting to see how a fight between the pair would pan out. But with Khabib’s unwillingness to move up to fight anyone, it seems like this matchup may just remain a pipe-dream.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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