Uncasville, CT — On Friday night at Bellator 255, the mainstream MMA audience was introduced to a different kind of Nurmagomedov. A cousin of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib, Usman Nurmagomedov displayed a strong stand-up game in addition to solid wrestling in his promotional debut Friday.
Nurmagomedov earned a clear unanimous decision win against Mike Hamel, piecing him up on the feet throughout three rounds. That improved the Dagestani fighter to a solid 12-0. After the win, however, the newcomer stated that he didn’t even get to show his full arsenal. In fact, he wasn’t fully satisfied with his performance.
“I believe I only showed 50% of my skill set. So I will work on it, I will move forward, and I hope I will show 100% next time,” he told media outlets including Cageside Press during the post-fight press conference. Later, he would add that “I know I could do better, I know I could finish fights. But because I was worried a little bit, because it’s my debut, I had a little pressure, I didn’t open myself fully.”
In his corner Saturday was the 29-0, newly retired Khabib. “The Eagle” and the rest of the team could be overheard yelling instructions at Usman throughout the fight. “It motivated me a lot, but at the same time, I felt a little bit of pressure, because I have my brothers in my corner.” Nurmagomedov was clearly looking to make his teammates proud.
Asked what advice Khabib gave him heading into the fight, he said it was to “just relax, be focused.” That, and to “move forward, just do what you do in the gym every day.”
Watch the full Bellator 255 post-fight press conference with Usman Nurmagomedov above.