UFC4 | Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Cheick Congo (EA sports UFC 4)

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UFC4 | Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Cheick Congo (EA sports UFC 4)

Nurmagomedov made his professional MMA debut in September 2008 and compiled four wins in under a month. On 11 October, he became the inaugural Atrium Cup tournament champion, having defeated his three opponents at the Moscow event. Over the next three years he went undefeated, finishing 11 out of 12 opponents. These included a first-round armbar finish of future Bellator title challenger Shahbulat Shamhalaev, which marked his M-1 Global debut. In 2011, he competed in seven fights for the ProFC promotion, all of which he won by TKO or submission.

A 16–0 record in the regional circuits of Russia and Ukraine generated interested from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in signing Nurmagomedov. Later, Nurmagomedov’s father revealed in an interview that due to a contract dispute with ProFC they had 11 court cases contesting the legitimacy of Nurmagomedov’s UFC contract. After losing six and winning five cases, they reached an agreement and Khabib was able to continue his career.

Ultimate Fighting Championship
Early UFC fights and championship pursuits
In late 2011, Nurmagomedov signed a six-fight deal to compete in the UFC’s lightweight division.

In his UFC debut, on 20 January 2012 at UFC on FX 1, Nurmagomedov defeated Kamal Shalorus via submission in the third round.

Nurmagomedov next defeated Gleison Tibau on 7 July 2012 at UFC 148 via unanimous decision. However, 5 out of 6 media outlets scored the fight for Tibau.

Nurmagomedov’s next fight was against Thiago Tavares on 19 January 2013 at UFC on FX 7. He won via KO in the first round. After the fight, Tavares tested positive for Drostanolone, an anabolic steroid, and received a 9-month suspension.

Nurmagomedov defeated Abel Trujillo on 25 May 2013 at UFC 160 via unanimous decision. At the weigh-ins, Nurmagomedov came in over the permitted limit, weighing in at 158.5 lb. He was given two hours to cut to the lightweight maximum of 156 pounds, but elected instead to surrender a percentage of his fight purse to Trujillo and the bout was contested at a catchweight. In the course of the fight, Nurmagomedov set a new UFC record for the most takedowns in a single fight, with 21 successful takedowns out of 28 attempts.

In his fifth UFC fight, on 21 September 2013 at UFC 165, Nurmagomedov faced Pat Healy. He won the fight via unanimous decision. Attending his first post-event press conference, UFC president Dana White praised the relative newcomer stating, “That slam, when he just scoops him up and slams him, Matt Hughes style. That reminded me of the old Matt Hughes where he would run a guy across the Octagon and slam him. The kid is exciting. We’re probably going to do big things with this kid.”

In December, Nurmagomedov challenged Gilbert Melendez on social media, with the two then expected to face off at UFC 170 on 22 February 2014. However, the bout was cancelled for undisclosed reasons, and Melendez was replaced by Nate Diaz. However, the match-up was cancelled as Diaz turned the bout down. Nurmagomedov expressed his disappointment, appearing on The MMA Hour, “If they say that they’re willing to fight the best, they should fight the best. If they want, I’ll take them both at once in the cage.”

Nurmagomedov next faced Rafael dos Anjos on 19 April 2014 at UFC on Fox 11. He won the fight via unanimous decision.

Nurmagomedov was briefly linked to a bout with Donald Cerrone on 27 September 2014 at UFC 178. However, the pairing was quickly scrapped after it was revealed that Nurmagomedov had suffered a knee injury. He was later expected to face Cerrone on 23 May 2015, at UFC 187. However, Nurmagomedov pulled out of the bout on 30 April due to a recurring knee injury and was replaced by John Makdessi.

Nurmagomedov was expected to face Tony Ferguson on 11 December 2015 at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale. However, Nurmagomedov pulled out of the fight in late October, citing another injury, and was replaced by Edson Barboza.

Nurmagomedov and his father, Abdulmanap
The bout with Ferguson was rescheduled for 16 April 2016 at UFC on Fox 19. However, on 5 April, Ferguson pulled out of the bout due to a lung issue. Ferguson was replaced by promotional newcomer Darrell Horcher at a catchweight of 160 lb. Nurmagomedov won the one-sided fight by TKO in the second round.

In September, Nurmagomedov signed two contracts for a title shot against the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez, on either the UFC 205 or the UFC 206 fight card, with Dana White confirming the bout for UFC 205. However, on 26 September, the UFC announced that Alvarez would instead be defending the title against Conor McGregor.

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