Flashback fight: Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Rafael dos Anjos in first steps toward UFC gold

It’s now hard to imagine Khabib Nurmagomedov as anything other than the dominating force he has become as the UFC lightweight champion. But yes, there was once a time that even Nurmagomedov was still earning his stripes, clawing his way to the top of the mountain.

When Nurmagomedov fought Rafael dos Anjos, it was before either of them had worn the UFC lightweight championship belt. Both eventually would, but it was this fight that may have been the tipping point, announcing Nurmagomedov as a legitimate contender to the 155-pound throne.

Nurmagomedov was most recently slated to defend his belt against Tony Ferguson in the UFC 249 main event on April 18 in Brooklyn, N.Y. But when the coronavirus crisis reached the United States, everything was upended, including the UFC’s schedule. 

Amidst all of the would it, would it not happen questions swirling around UFC 249, Nurmagomedov was forced home to Russia, where he is currently under lockdown, as well as observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. 

UFC 249 has been rescheduled for May 9 in Jacksonville, Fla., where Ferguson will still headline, but it will now be in a battle for the interim UFC lightweight title opposite Justin Gaethje. Coronavirus crisis permitting, Nurmagomedov is expected to return sometime in September or October to face the winner of Ferguson vs. Gaethje.

(Video courtesy of UFC)

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