The invincibility of Khabib Nurmagomedov in MMA is so cult that many believe in stories that the retired Dagestani has never lost even in sparring and that he has always been so dominant. 29 victories in as many professional appearances speak in favor of Nurmagomedov, but it is not possible that Khabib has always been so good.
Every fighter had his tough beginnings where he had just joined the gym or was in the early stages of his career, far from his peak. Khabib Nurmagomedov trained at the American Kickboxing Academy for years and worked and paired with a series of top fighters.
Renowned MMA trainer and headman of Tristar Gym, Firas Zahabi, believes none of the most dominant MMA fighters have enjoyed such dominance from the start. Zahabi believes that it is precisely the difficulties they have faced that are the key to their progress and what has made them top MMA fighters.
Khabib Nurmagomedov did a huge number of amateur fights, before turning into a professional. Zahabi believes that Khabib has chosen the right moment to turn into a professional, but points out that his amateur career has certainly not been in equal dominance.
Zahabi on Nurmagomedov
‘‘ It is not true that Khabib was never beaten. We just didn’t get a chance to see it, because by the time he became a professional, he had a lot of amateur fights. A bunch of professionals today are imprinting themselves too early into professionals.
Too fast and too early. But fighters like Khabib have had hundreds of amateur matches. As for GSP, you haven’t seen the beatings he suffered, but there have been a handful of them in his amateur career. Jon Jones used to be half the ratio in wrestling.
One match he would win, the next he would lose. They weren’t stars from the very beginning, ’’ Firas explained during a guest appearance on the Blood Brothers Podcast. As for Nurmagomedov, a video of one of his defeats is even available on YouTube.
It was a samba match, and Khabib was 17 at the time. His opponent Magomed Ibragimov was 20 years old at the time and defeated Nurmagomedov. The good thing is that Zahabi decided to point out things like this. Young fighters need to be aware that fighters like Jones, GSP and Khabib are not invincible and have experienced defeats at some stages of their careers. It was these defeats that built them into the fighters they later became.