What does a man fear? Well a wise man fears Khabib Nurmagomedov, the 32-year-old who hails from Dagestan, holds an unblemished record of 29 – 0. Achieving such a feat is impressive in its own right. But the way that Khabib was able to do it made it legendary. This article will discuss how Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats his opponents using their fear of him.

Khabib blazed through every opponent he faced. He did so with such stifling dominance that he left viewers without any doubts of his ability. Unfortunately, he has recently announced his retirement from MMA. Let’s take a look at what made him such an unstoppable force.


Now if an unsuspecting citizen were lucky enough to stumble into a pub when they were showing a Khabib fight, his genius would surely be lost on them. This is because Khabib wasn’t about flash knockouts or flying knees. He had a bulletproof strategy which he executed effortlessly in every bout.

You see, Khabib is relentless on the ground using his elite Sambo skills. He forces his opponent to the cage with continuous forward pressure and then when he was ready and his rival wasn’t, he would shoot. Taking his competitor down with ease. He would then press his entire body weight onto the chest and neck of this poor soul.

This would force them to not only have to worry about escaping the clutches of The Eagle but doing it while supporting Khabib’s entire body weight. Once he had his opponent in the guard position, or anywhere on the ground for that matter, it is basically over for them.

It wasn’t rare to watch Khabib seamlessly advance through guard to full mount. This left his opponents no choice but to roll onto their stomachs to avoid multiple shots to the skull. The quick transition to full mount sent his competitor into full panic mode. In turn they would usually give up their back, thus becoming extremely vulnerable to the rear naked choke.

There were times when he wasn’t able to advance through guard. In this case, he would simply cross his opponent’s legs with his own, take control of one of their wrists and then smother his competitor with his body weight. From this position he could continually punch them in the face until they have no choice but to submit.

He would also commonly look for the triangle choke. Which was usually applied when he caught an opponent desperately attempting to get back to their feet.

There is no question that Khabib has reached another level with his Sambo skills. However, this martial art is heavily dependent on wrestling. To be a champion, to go undefeated in the octagon 29 times, you must be a well-rounded fighter in all aspects.

So, what Khabib did was create a punch that fed off the fear of his opponent.

The Eagle Punch

It is known by many names, The Eagle Punch, The Knuckle Punch, maybe The Rich Hand, but the best thing to call it would be effective.

Now, its not that Khabib’s striking is below par. He has simply built his frame and his strategy around his ground game. As he spent time perfecting his groundwork and training his body to be as efficient as possible on the ground. He didn’t necessarily focus on making his striking impressive.

But the explosiveness and knock out power that Khabib gave up to master Sambo was made up for with The Eagle Punch.

Let’s roleplay here for a second in an attempt to explain the full effectiveness of this awkward looking strike. You are an MMA fighter and you have the unfortunate luck of drawing a fight against a Russian named Khabib Nurmagomedov.

As is wise, you do some research and learn that he has never lost. You also learn that his fighting technique is the strongest on the ground. Perfect! You are a stand up fighter with a reach advantage. As long as you can keep distance between Khabib and yourself you should be good. All you have to do is work on some take down defense and you should stand a chance.

You step into the cage with the game plan of staying on your feet. As long as you stand with him you are okay, just remember to watch for and stop all take down attempts at all cost.

Now in comes a punch that Khabib has crafted to perfection just for your situation. This is where your night gets a lot worse. Where the fear begins to play a factor against the undefeated Russian.

When Khabib initiates The Eagle Punch he starts by dipping his head down. This head movement indicates to you that a takedown is coming, and you drop your arms to catch him. The next thing Khabib does is drive his head upwards while throwing an uppercut-like punch.

But, as he keeps his knuckles up, along with the awkward direction which his hand comes from, you have little to no indication that a punch is on its way. Unluckily for you, your hands are at your chest or waist level in preparation for his take down.

It is at this point that you are most likely eating a fist. The fear of his impeccable ground game had you defeated before you stepped in the octagon. Khabib was simply waiting for his opportunity.

How it helped Khabib defeat his opponents

To be honest, when you slow down this punch it does look a little awkward. But every movement serves a purpose. It resembles the trajectory of a corkscrew uppercut. However, Khabib keeps his palm down the entire time, with his knuckles swooping towards your chin.

The moment he decides to throw this punch is the same moment you start contemplating your decision to step into the ring.

Let’s say that the muscular Russian with the odd beard and an even stranger hat doesn’t completely immobilize you in fear. Let’s say you are able to keep your hands up when he throws The Eagle Punch, because you saw it coming.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you are safe as the manner in which the punch is thrown also makes it the perfect guard splitter. As the UFC has much smaller gloves than boxing, the opportunity for this punch to slip between your arms and pop you in the kisser is much greater.

The Eagle Punch meant that while you stood across the octagon from Khabib, you had no choice but to respect him at every second. The fear being his unbeaten, unbreakable strategy and skill. You don’t want Khabib to get you on the ground, but with this punch in his repertoire, you sort of don’t want to stand with him either.

The Eagle Punch is just one more thing that made Khabib the total package. It helped elevate him to be one of the greatest to ever do it.

Twenty-nine times, the man standing across from him knew exactly what he was going to do but couldn’t stop him. This seemed to be the main strategy for all his fights. Obviously adjusting for certain opponents, but more often than not this is how each of his fights transpired.

The die-hard fans of MMA are sad to see him go. No matter who the opponent, or how he chose to defeat them, it was always a work of art and a pleasure to watch. Here’s hoping that he decides to step out of retirement for one more bout and solidify once and for all that he indeed is The G.O.A.T.

Now, we obviously can’t measure a man’s fear while he is in the ring. This is a breakdown of what I witnessed while watching The Eagle fly. If you have any other ideas as to why he was so dominate I would love to hear them. You can reach me at @JHuberWrites. You can also get your MMA fix by visiting the Belly Up Sports MMA Blog.

About Author

Jon Huber

When I was young I cared little for sports, I lived my adolescence with my father watching a little hockey but this was the extent of my exposure to them. I was sitting at a local watering hole when I was 25 years old and they were replaying clips of Steph Curry draining three pointers from the hash marks and I was blown away. Ever since then I have been obsessed with sports, from badminton to cricket, MMA to stock car racing. I simply can't seem to get enough.

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