One point people keep making about Khabib Nurmagomedov is hugely debatable 4 years ago

One point people keep making about Khabib Nurmagomedov is hugely debatable

How many of you have watched the Khabib Nurmagomedov - Michael Johnson again?

Considering the magnitude of UFC 205, many of you probably watched the Khabib Nurmagomedov - Michael Johnson fight live. Maybe some of you have watched it twice, a smaller group have maybe even seen it a few times, but most of you have probably only seen it once, at most.


That being said, you've probably heard it being referenced quite a bit in the lead up to UFC 229.

A lot of folks are pointing to a moment in this fight that displayed a supposed chink in Nurmagomedov's phenomenal armour. You'll hear things like, 'Khabib was rocked by Johnson,' 'Khabib was in trouble against Johnson,' 'Johnson nearly finished Khabib' etc. But are they really fair assessments?

Let's take another look at it.

The power of commentary


Have a look at this punch Johnson landed on Khabib 50 seconds into the fight.

Khabib Nurmagoemdov Michael Johnson

Yeah, 'The Menace' has some very fast hands. You may not have seen the true impact of it at that speed.

The best way to analyse a fight is to slow it down. Luckily, there is a big ass 'SLOW' button on UFC Fight Pass that allows users to watch fights in slow motion.


Khabib Nurmagomedov Michael Johnson

Pow! Right in the kisser!

By anyone's estimations, that lightning left hand was a very significant strike. While Nurmagomedov didn't appear to be too hurt but, he definitely felt it.

Remarkably, the commentary team didn't seem to notice this punch land in real time. After it found home, there were a few seconds of silence. Then Mike Goldberg rattled off some trivia about Nurmagomdov's hometown and his training arrangements in the US.


Here's another good sequence from 'The Menace'.

Khabib Nurmagomedov Michael Johnson

Let's slow that motherfucker down!

Khabib Nurmagomedov Michael Johnson

Nurmagomedov was caught again by another straight left hand. He clearly felt it, it caused him to stumble backwards. However, his footing was secure the entire time. Judging by his eyes, he was fully with it. Again, another very significant strike, but it would be unfair to say that Nurmagomedov was 'rocked' by this punch.


To be fair to the commentary team, they didn't suggest that Nurmagomedov was rocked either. Joe Rogan just claimed that Johnson was 'teeing off' on Nurmagomedov. This was a bit unfair. Nurmagomedov was avoided most of the punches, but he did get tagged by a few of them.

The moment

This is the moment that caused Joe Rogan and some of his colleagues to lose their shit.

Khabib Nurmagomedov Michael Johnson

This is how Rogan reacted to the sequence in real time.

 "Oh, he tagged him! He hurt him bad! Nurmagomedov is hurt right now! He's wobbly and hurt! He's moving around but, Nurmagomedov is still in trouble, Mike. His legs are not under him completely."

Michael Bisping, who was working on the analyst desk for UFC 205 said the following at the start of the second round:

"Yeah, the first half of the round, Michael Johnson looked like he was going to knock him out."

Did he? Cue the slow mo!

Khabib Nurmagomedov Michael Johnson

The big right hand connected with the jaw. The follow-up left hand whizzed past its target and caught nothing but arm. Another straight left hand landed on Nurmagomedov's forehead, but the fact that he was moving backwards lessened the impact of the blow. Then, the right hand was parried and the left hand missed.

Johnson had a lot of success in the striking department. He landed some very good shots on Nurmagomedov, particularly those straight left hands up top. However, did he really rock Nurmagomedov? Did he really come close to knocking him out?

Decide for yourselves

After that flurry, there was a clear focus in Nurmagodov's eyes. He never looked like he was going to lose his footing. He was bouncing around nearly exactly the same way he was at the beginning of the fight. 20 seconds after that moment, after eating another good straight left, Nurmagomedov finally made his move. He flicked out the jab, attempted a couple more punches before changing levels and securing an underhook. He drove Johnson to the fence, tripped him and landed on top.

From there, he pretty much closed out the show by brutalising the American on the ground. Johnson showed incredible heart to survive as long as he did, eventually tapping to a third-round kimura.

We'd be more inclined to agree with Frank Mir's assessment that the straight left 'kind of hurt him'. John Kavanagh's use of the word 'wobbled' is also something we could get on board with. But 'rocked'? That seems exaggerated. This is by no means a new or groundbreaking point. After all, the fight happened in 2016. We just felt the need to bring it up again considering how much it's being referenced of late.

But anyway, go back and watch the fight and decide for yourselves.