WATCH: Khabib Nurmagomedov Steals the Show With His Appearance on Fight Island at UFC 253

Published 09/26/2020, 11:36 PM EDT


Khabib Nurmagomedov made a surprise appearance for the main card opener for UFC 253 that saw featherweight fighters take center stage. Here, Hakeem Dawodu squared off against Khabib’s teammate Zubaira Tukhugov in what was a back-and-forth war that lasted three rounds. Chiefly, ‘Mean’ Hakeem would win the contest via split decision and walk away with his fifth straight victory.

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The bout was largely competitive until it reached the final round where the Canadian fighter pulled ahead. In the last five minutes, he out-landed Zubaira 15-5. In retrospect, this was possibly the clear deciding factor on the scorecards. Additionally, he landed the heavier strikes as the fight played out and the damage was telling on Tukhugov’s face.

Khabib Nurmagomedov corners Zubaira Tukhugov

A focal talking point once the main card was underway rested on the fact that ‘The Eagle‘ was in Abu Dhabi for Zubaira. Additionally, fight fans on social media were excited to see Nurmagomedov make an appearance once again. Also, it appeared Nurmagomedov’s input during the fight pushed his teammate to try to ground his opponent.

Khabib @TeamKhabib cageside cornering @ZubairaTukhugov #UFC253 pic.twitter.com/7msdMelp3c

— The Schmo (@TheSchmo312) September 27, 2020

The 19-5 Russian fighter took a page from Khabib’s textbook grappling style and attempted seven takedowns in the fight. Unfortunately for him, he landed only one takedown as the fight played out on the feet. Additionally, Khabib’s influence was apparent as Tukhugov landed a crisp overhand right that stunned his opponent. The heavy blow was reminiscent of Khabib’s knockdown over Conor McGregor at UFC 229.

. @TeamKhabib and @MAKHACHEVMMA give @ZubairaTukhugov instructions after the first round #UFC253 pic.twitter.com/AZhvJ2EauZ

— RT Sport (on Fight Island🌴) (@RTSportNews) September 27, 2020

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Furthermore, a video grab saw the undisputed champion congratulate Dawodu after his statement win. Barring the infamous incident with McGregor, he has been a complete gentleman after the final bell.

Khabib all class. Congratulates Hakeem Dawodu before leaving the octagon with Zubaira Tukhugov #UFC253 pic.twitter.com/NZmzzPZTit

— Helen Yee (@HelenYeeSports) September 27, 2020

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UFC 253 is already shaping up to be a stellar event, and fans can’t wait to watch the marquee title fights unfold. Hakeem Dawodu vs Zubaira Tukhugov went a long way to heat up the PPV’s main card. Considering the aforementioned fight, fans will hope to see more explosive exchanges as the main event draws near.

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Darryl Pinto

1411 articles

Darryl Pinto is a senior MMA writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his graduate degree in Mass Media (with a specialization in Journalism) out of Xavier’s College and has a year's experience in his current role. Darryl specializes in predictions, reporting, and covering UFC events live.

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