Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov & His Influence On MMA
By James Lee
After Friday’s tragic news that father and coach to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, has passed away due to Covid-19 complications, it is only fitting to detail his commanding influence on mixed martial arts.
Although perhaps not as recognised as well as other figures in the sport, it could be rightly said that his influence and appreciation will be far more prominent in years to come as Russian and Dagestan fighters continue to vitalise their modern sporting revolution on the combat stage.
Crucially, you do not have to look further than his son to exemplify the influence he has had on martial arts in the European region.
Khabib became the first Russian to claim UFC gold in April 2018, with a dominant decision victory over American Al Iaquinta seeing millions across Russia celebrate. ‘The Eagle’ since gone on to defend his title twice, both in authoritative fashion, against Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Rightly, he has been dubbed the most dominant force in the sport, as his record of 28-0 has been met with little resistance yet.
It is widely recognised that Abdulmanap has trained the allegiance of Dagestani fighters for decades, with Khabib being not the only one who has climbed to elevated heights under his father’s tutelage.
Fellow lightweight Islam Makhachev has too cemented himself as one of the sport’s best, with an opportunity to be amongst the highest-ranked at 155 lbs inevitable. In addition, his nephew Umar Nurmagomedov signed for the UFC earlier this year and is currently scheduled to make his debut later this month against England’s Nathaniel Wood.
One thing all his fighters share however is a strong Sambo base. Nurmagomedov is a two-time World Sambo champion and a takedown rate in the UFC of 5.09 per fifteen minutes is in the top ten highest in the company’s history and a testament to father’s education.
His most important influence though is the future generation his team will inspire in Russia. Khabib and Islam have shown that the Sambo style can have global success and it is almost a certainty that more will follow.
The upcoming torrent of talent evolving can be best exemplified by the amateur Russian fighters global success. At the 2018 IMMAF World Championships, Russia topped the overall table with seventeen medals. If the amateur success translates professionally, the future of the sport will be filled with the White, Blue and Red of the Russian flag in the coming decades.
Again, another influence his tutorship can be credited for is the rise in popularity of the sport in Russia in the past decade. The demand to watch the sport has led to European promotions Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) and Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW) having successful events in the region.
Similarly, the UFC has begun to explore the thriving market, with their long-awaited debut show in 2018 selling 22,000 tickets. They have since hosted three successful events across Moscow and Saint Petersburg, with Russia expected to host more substantial cards in the near future.
Ultimately, as names like Bruce Lee, Royce Gracie and Anderson Silva have transformed perception, it can be said that the Nurmagomedov name will do the same. As the dominance of pure wrestling was once seen as the product of past success in the earlier part of the sport, recent years has seen wrestling at the core of the greatest success in the sport, with Khabib at the helm of that.
Although Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov has sadly passed, his legacy can be noted to have changed the sport forever.
Whatever the future holds for Khabib Nurmagomedov specifically is in doubt, but the future of mixed martial arts in Dagestan and Russia is set to be widely successful because of Abdulmanap’s mastery.