Usman Nurmagomedov: I want to become a better MMA fighter than Khabib
Cousin of unbeaten UFC legend is already forging his own path in the fight world and is unbeaten in 11 bouts
Usman Nurmagomedov has said that he wants to follow in the footsteps of his superstar cousin Khabib – and eventually become an even better fighter.
Khabib, 32, called time on his Mixed Martial Arts career after beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in their lightweight title fight last October.
The former lightweight champion retired immediately after the bout in Abu Dhabi that took his professional record to 29-0 and, despite the repeated efforts of UFC president Dana White, the Russian will not be going back on his call.
Usman, meanwhile, also has an unblemished record, winning all 11 of his MMA fights so far – 10 of those were ended by submission or knockout, with seven of them coming in the first round.
Khabib was present in Abu Dhabi last July to see Usman stretch his winning streak to 10-0 at the Mubadala Arena.
Appearing in the catchweight 71kg, Usman defeated Jerry Kvarnstrom in the first round when the referee stopped the bout with the Finn pinned down by a barrage of punches.
He takes on Mike Hamel in a lightweight bout at Bellator 255 in the US on Friday when his famous cousin is again expected to be in his corner.
"It's very motivational for me to fight under the Nurmagomedov name," Usman, 22, told BBC Sport.
"I want to follow in Khabib's footsteps, follow his journey and eventually become a better version of him.
"I spend my entire training camp with Khabib. It's very hard work to compete and train with him. So after training camp has finished, it feels very easy to train and fight with other people.
"I learn everything from Khabib. Whenever I want to know or learn something, Khabib is there."
Gallery: Khabib beats Gaethje at UFC 254
The unbeaten Dagestani had promised his mother before the Gaethje fight that it would be his last following the death in July of his father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
Usman, who was also trained by Abdulmanap, said: "He taught me everything, not only as a fighter, but as a person too.
"He taught me how to talk to people, how to treat people, he taught me everything. I'm missing him a lot."
In the BBC interview, Usman described one comat sambo – a form of martial arts popular in Russia – tournament where he ended up fighting 15 times in one day.
"I thought I was fighting in one weight division at 62kg," said Usman.
"Then Abdulmanap came to me and said that I would be fighting in three different weight divisions that day. I said, 'OK, no problem.'
"I kept winning, so after every 15 minutes, I would get another fight and then another."
Published: April 1, 2021 02:50 PM