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14th Nov 2016

Khabib Nurmagomedov soundly prevented Michael Johnson from suffering a potential career ending injury

Compassionate combatant

Ben Kiely

Top UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov did a lot of talking inside the Octagon on Saturday night.

Nurmagomedov initially thought he would be taking on Eddie Alvarez for the title in the headline act of the historic New York city card. However, it is thought he was used as a pawn by the promotion in order to lock down the superfight main event between Alvarez and Conor McGregor.

The undefeated Dagestani missed out on his crack at the belt and was instead booked to take on explosive striker Michael Johnson on the preliminary card. With Johnson coming in off one of the greatest performances of his career – a first round knockout of Dustin Poirier, coupled with many fans considering Nurmagomedov to be the rightful heir to the 155 lb throne, this fight was seen as a potential title eliminator bout.

Throughout the bout it was clear that he was trying to seize the opportunity to secure his title shot, mainly because he was literally screaming at Dana White to give him what he wants. Considering how dominant he was against MJ, it would be difficult to deny him his wish.

Although the current champ may have other plans.

After Johnson had some success on the feet in the opening round, it developed into a very one-sided fight with Nurmagomedov completely dominating with his grappling prowess. He wore him down, sapped his energy, peppered him with ground and pound and really, it was over well before he went for the kimura that finished the fight in the third round.

As he explained in his post-fight media scrum, he knew he had won the contest at that stage and actually held back with the submission and spoke to his opponent on the ground to try to convince him to tap out to prevent an arm break.

“I had a little talk with him; is that not good? I told him, ‘Hey, I have to fight for the title. You know this.’ I tell him, ‘I don’t want to smash your face, and I already beat you. You have to give up.’ He keep fighting.”

Nurmagomedov explained that it was a one-way conversation with Johnson reluctant to give up, so he kept applying slightly more pressure with the kimura until he eventually tapped out. He didn’t want to see his opponent suffer any unnecessary damage.

“No, he say nothing. He keep fighting back a couple times like punch me. I want to give him respect because he come out, he take this fight and I give him very hard 15 punches. I think a lot of people after this finish, but he keep fighting. He’s a great guy, great fighter, he have very big experience fighting tough guys and I want to give him respect.”

“I watch all UFC fights and I know a lot of injuries like Nogueira vs Mir. That’s why I take this kimura, I go like slowly, slowly, slowly, because if you can you have to be careful don’t get crazy damage because if you break his arm it’s never same.”

If you are unfamiliar with the fight Nurmagomedov was referring to, you can check it out in the video embedded below. Fair warning, it’s not for the faint of heart.