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The UFC’s newest middleweight signing has the hardcore MMA fan community hyped. Sharabutdin Magomedov is Dagestan’s latest MMA export. A 29-year-old talent with a perfect 11-0 MMA record, with ten of those wins coming inside the distance. He’s also already made a reputation as a man prone to violent outbursts.
Last year, Magomedov made headlines after he he was arrested in his home city of Makhachkala on charges of assault. “Shara Bullet” as he’s also known, witnessed a man and woman, in front of him on a subway escalator, exchanging a kiss. The public display of affection apparently riled the fighter so much that he felt the need to exchange words, and then even blows, over the incident.
“One has to understand the situation, in Makhachkala there are unwritten rules, a kind of moral code of our own,” Magomedov explained of the incident. “In Moscow it is acceptable [to show affection in public], but with us it is not acceptable. I could not shut up”.
Sharabutdin Magomedov in trouble again
News broke that the GOR MMA talent had signed with the UFC back in December of last year, with his manager, Ali Abdelaziz confirming the reports. More recently rumors have been swirling that Magomedov is being penciled in for a high profile Octagon debut at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi. Potentially against top-ranked UFC middleweight Derek Brunson. Whether or not that bout actually comes to fruition fans should expect to see the Russian back in competition soon… provided he stays out of trouble.
To keep busy and to keep himself in fighting shape, Magomedov recently competed at the ADCC Southeast Asia tournament, where he had a grappling match against Poland’s Jakub Bilko. At one point, with Magomedov on top, looking to stack his opponent, Bilko rolled for a heel hook. After a few seconds of twisting and adjusting on the mat, Magomedov was forced to tap.
After tapping, Magomedov was clearly unhappy and exchanged words with Bilko before kicking him and walking away.
Sharabudtin Magomedov shares his side of the story
What was behind the incident? In a video interview with the Ushatayka YouTube channel, the fighter gave his side of the story. Notably, despite a big stage like the ADCCs, this was Magomedov’s first time in a grappling competition.
“I signed up for the entry level,” Magomedov explained (transcript via fight.ru). “It was my first grappling competition. I came to the tournament, and they told me that since I am a professional fighter, they can throw me into blue belts. I went and signed up for the blue ones. And in the end they take me and throw me into black belts. I signed up for 90 kg, and they threw me into black belts up to 100 kg. Just crossed out of both sections and thrown into black belts.
“I thought I’d fight, no big deal. A Pole was drawn for the semi-final bout. [Coach] told me not to fight him, he does twisting of the heel, this is a big risk, the ankle takes a long time to heal. You can drop out of competition for six months or a year.”
Despite the trepidation, about weight, level of competition, and potential for injury. Magomedov was prepared to go ahead, and tried to strike up a deal with his opponent before hand: No leg attacks. Despite both sides seemingly in agreement, it seems all bets were off once the bout actually started.
“Then, at the entrance to the arena, I ran into these Poles,” Magomedov revealed. “I went up to him and asked: ‘Do you understand Russian?’ He says, ‘Yes, I understand a little.’ We agreed [to grapple] with him without ‘heels.’ I thought that if he agreed so, then I would fight. He agreed. Then he approached one of the coaches and complained about me. He asked me what I want from him. I called a friend, asked him to explain to him in English, because maybe he misunderstood me, thought that I was running into him.
“Then a friend approached me and said that the Pole agreed and 100% would not twist my legs. I go to the fight, and he immediately lies on his back, does not fight with me, but immediately lies on his back. I attacked him from above—and he immediately goes on his leg. Scoundrel. This made me angry. The will to fight is gone. He acted wickedly. I got up angry and called him an asshole. I got angry, I was emotional.”
What’s the lesson?
It’s not hard to see the logic here of why Magomedov was angry. He thought he’d made an arrangement, but his opponent went back on the deal. It also seems like a pretty tragic misunderstanding of the nature of grappling and of competition. For Magomedov, this ADCC event was a chance to get experience and do some light work in prep for the UFC. But there’s no reason anyone else there should be treating the event the same way.
Clearly the fighter got thrown in way over his head, as can happen with grappling competitions where a limited pool of athletes means that last minute consolidations are made to get people matchups and to keep events together. But it also seems like—at the point Magomedov was asking his opponent to change the rules just for him—he probably shouldn’t have been there at all.
If a competition like this one were a higher profile combat sports event, this would be closer to fight fixing than a friendly gentleman’s agreement. And revealing a weakness to an opponent looking to win is more an invitation for them to take an easy victory than it is a way to create a level playing field.
Hopefully Magomedov can manage his expectations and his temper in the future, or his time in the UFC could be as short as it is eventful.
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