Bellator 292: Final with McKee Would Be “Amazing” But Usman Nurmagomedov Not Looking Past Henderson

Bellator lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov is not a fighter to look past his opponents.

The undefeated Dagestani, a cousin of UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov, is 16-0, and captured the Bellator lightweight crown by defeating Brazilian veteran Patricky Pitbull last November.

Now, Usman leads the charge into the promotion’s lightweight grand prix, which kicks off this Friday at Bellator 292.

Pitbull is in the tournament, along with Nurmagomedov, who will attempt to defend his belt throughout. Ex-champ Brent Primus is there, and so too is former UFC and WEC champion Benson Henderson. That big fight against a former multi-promotion champion is first up for Nurmagomedov.

“He’s a legend, brother. I’m excited now. This is a big moment for me,” Nurmagomedov told Cageside Press ahead of the fight. “I cannot tell you what I feel, but I feel amazing.”

In a separate interview with Cageside Press, Henderson questioned Nurmagomedov’s experience. Whether you see him as green or not, however, Nurmagomedov is acting the part of champ, and not thinking about the sort of super-fight a bout with A.J. McKee would be.

McKee won Bellator’s featherweight grand prix in 2021, claiming the belt and the million dollar prize. He’s undefeated since moving to lightweight last year, getting the better of Spike Carlyle and RIZIN champ Roberto “Satoshi” Souza.

“I’m not thinking about this. I have fight, I have an opponent. He has fight, he has an opponent,” Nurmagomedov said of the potential match-up. “First of all, he has to win his fight and I have to win my fight, and the second fight.”

McKee does indeed sit on the opposite side of the tournament bracket. Both fighters will need to win two fights to the final round. Yet they are two of Bellator’s biggest stars; McKee, like Nurmagomedov, started his career with a lengthy undefeated streak.

“This is like future,” Nurmagomedov suggested of the McKee fight. “[In the] future maybe Bellator can make this fight. We’ll see. If it will be [the] final, it will be amazing. We’ll see though.”

Bellator 292 goes down this Friday, March 10, 2023 at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA.