Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is about to make his third title defense when he attempts to unify titles against interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 254 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
In preparation for the fight, let’s take a look back at the very first title defense of Nurmagomedov, which can be viewed above or on the YouTube channel of the UFC (video by the UFC/Youtube).
Nurmagomedov (28-0) first earned the lightweight title at UFC 223 following a tumultuous week of various changes in opponent for the undefeated fighter. He was originally scheduled to take on Tony Ferguson before he was unfortunately injured in a bizarre accident that saw him removed from the fight altogether. Then, former featherweight champion Max Holloway attempted to come in and compete at 155 pounds for the first time in the UFC, but was also pulled as he was deemed unfit to compete due to the weight cut.
Finally, Nurmagomedov met ranked contender Al Iaquinta, who was competing on the card against Paul Felder. Iaquinta was completely dominated by Nurmagomedov for the better part of five rounds and ‘The Eagle’ earned an unanimous decision as well as his first UFC title. He knew exactly who he wanted to defend it against, too—former two-division champion, Conor McGregor.
Nurmagomedov got his wish at UFC 229, where he met McGregor after a long pre-fight battle of words and events between him and the Irishman. Nurmagomedov took control of the fight early on, and nearly finished McGregor in the second round when he had him up against the cage and continue to rain down punches. The fight extended beyond the second round, but not for much longer as Nurmagomedov was able to wrap up a neck crank that forced McGregor to tap in the fourth round.
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