Khabib Nurmagomedov, a Muslim, walked into the UFC pay-per-view fight on Saturday night with the title of hardest puncher from the sport of mixed martial arts and Khabib displayed that. Here is Khabib standing and fighting with the lightest of fights with 155-pound opponent Michael Johnson. Johnson told MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani, “[Khabib’s] the toughest guy I’ve fought.” That wasn’t news. What did was Khabib’s divisional rating – he beat Jon Jones by unanimous decision, although Johnson took a points deduction in the third round for a low blow. Johnson was knocked down by Khabib several times and then, with his back to the cage, was hit once with a right hand to the ear that sent him crashing to the mat.
Khabib’s work against Johnson was impressive for three reasons:
He landed punches and leg kicks that made Johnson go down. Khabib’s also made Johnson miss. In the first round Khabib went to Johnson’s body with uppercuts and before the third round, Johnson went down and on to the mat for three or four seconds at a time. Khabib could of course have suffered punishment in round three. He only took a point deduction because of the low blow, which perhaps could have prompted further punishment. If the UFC were to punish Johnson for a low blow against Khabib in this fight, Khabib is the most fearsome puncher in the history of the UFC. Khabib was also able to land heavy shots on other opponents with light punches.
Credit to Khabib. Just finishing a fight that wasn’t going anywhere because of his opponent’s lowered state is impressive. And if he can mix it up with Johnson in the future, his undefeated record will get better.