Bantamweight Umar Nurmagomedov was in uncharted territory at UFC Vegas 67, without coach and cousin Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner.
With “The Eagle” taking flight and reportedly stepping back from MMA, the undefeated Nurmagomedov would be without one of his biggest supporters as he took on Brazilian Raoni Barcelos in the UFC’s first event of 2023.
Nurmagomedov opened the bout, and main card, with some stance changes before firing a kick. That kept Barcelos on the outside, but it wasn’t long before he unleashed a kick aimed at the body that Nurmagomedov blocked — although the blow nevertheless landed with an audible crack.
Soon it was Nurmagomedov circling on the outside, using kicks and firing his jab, in a fairly back-and-forth, but low-paced start to the first half of the round. When Barcelos darted in, closing the distance, Nurmagomedov unleashed a counter overhand. Perhaps most surprising was that, through three and a half minutes, the fight had yet to hit the mat, with no takedowns really presenting themselves. Towards the final minute, Nurmagomedov landed a solid left set up off a kick.
It looked as if things would head to the second round, right until Nurmagomedov fired a knee, and followed it up with a left hand! Barcelos went crashing back, and a single hammer fist bounced his head off the canvas. That was all she wrote, with Umar Nurmagomedov remaining perfect!
OUT. OF. NOWHERE!!!!!!!
— UFC (@ufc) January 15, 2023
Official Result: Umar Nurmagomedov def. Raoni Barcelos by KO (punch), Round 1, 4:40