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The Rise of Dagestani Fighters Brings New Excitement to the MMA

Richard Lau

Islam Makhachev celebrates after winning against Gleison Tibau in the UFC 220 event in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 20, 2018.

With there being so much depth in the UFC roster from top to bottom, across multiple weight classes, it’s hard to deny that this is the most exciting MMA has ever been. The rise of Khamzat Chimaev and Shavkhat Rakhmonov in welterweight, the upcoming Jones-Gane clash in heavyweight, and the Usman-Edwards trilogy are just a few of the many events that MMA fans can look forward to. The pool of talent seems to be exponentially increasing, as prospects from all over the world work tirelessly on perfecting their craft, competing for a spot in the organization.

However, there is no set formula for becoming a good fighter. Whether it’s Mcgregor’s striking abilities, Oliveria’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or George St-Pierre’s versatility, fighters have found success in the sport whilst being completely different from each other. As athletes aren’t exactly sure what area they should focus on, it is extremely difficult to break into this level of MMA. But not for the Dagestanis; they seem to have cracked the code.

The Republic of Dagestan is buried deep in the mountains of Eastern Europe. With the sub-0 winters, low oxygen levels, steep mountains, fighting culture, and hyper-masculine traits, the area produces warriors like no other. The region was first brought to light by Khabib Nurmagamedov, a retired UFC champion with an undefeated record. According to him, “Dagestan is a different level for people living a tough life,” and seeing that viral clip of him wrestling a wild bear as a kid, I don’t doubt that. During MMA reporter Alzo Slades’ visit to Dagestan, he noted that villages put kids through wrestling camps with 150 people, and parents would let their kids wrestle with each other during family visits. Khabib’s success has also heavily influenced the region, as kids look up to him, and train hard hoping to follow in his footsteps. With harsh training sessions in high mountains and unparalleled discipline, Dagestani fighters develop strong cardiovascular systems along with skill sets far superior to others.

Dagestan’s fighting culture has certainly paid off, as fighters from that region possess a 73% winning chance in MMA. As Islam Makhachev becomes the new UFC lightweight champion after beating Charles Oliveira, it’s fair to say Khabib’s legacy is in good hands. Dagestan fighters now have a new hero to look up to. Today, the dominance of Dagestani fighters massively helps bring MMA to the next level, and MMA fans should be excited about what the region has to offer.


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