UFC Fantasy Fight: Can Khabib Nurmagomedov beat Israel Adesanya?

Khabib vs Adesanya
Khabib vs Adesanya

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Here is how a fantasy matchup: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Israel Adesanya might possibly pan out

The outlandish star manager Ali Abdelaziz made yet another bold comment that involved former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, and current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Israel Adesanya defended his belt for the fifth time against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276.

Khabib Nurmagomedov Car
Khabib Nurmagomedov at an Eagle Fighting Championship event

Ali Abdelaziz, had earlier claimed that Israel Adesanya wouldn’t last more than three rounds against Nurmagomedov. Abdelaziz also said ‘The Eagle’ is capable of beating heavyweights, light heavyweights, welterweights and lightweights.

“Khabib now weighs 200 pounds. If Khabib comes tomorrow and cuts to 185, he would stop Israel Adesanya in three rounds. I see it. He beats heavyweights, light heavyweights, welterweights, lightweights – he’s unstoppable now. He’s like a tractor trailer.”

“But styles – if Khabib wants to come back and talks with Dana White and says, ‘Let me fight at middleweight,’ he will finish Israel in three rounds because the style of fights. Israel can’t stop his wrestling. He can’t stop his grappling. But striking, of course, Israel is the best striker on this planet.”

Speaking about his chances in a fight against Adesanya, Khabib shut down his manager’s claims and graciously reminded everyone of the class act that he is. He said, “No, because I’m not going to fight in 185, I’m not going to fight with him (Adesanya). It’s like… Right now this is his time you know. (Don’t) try to take his like greatness… But going to fight and talk about ‘Oh I can smash him.’ I didn’t say this, people talk about this, I don’t agree with this.”

So how will a fight against two of the most dominant champions in the UFC play out?

What are the chances that Khabib Nurmagomedov beats Israel Adesanya?

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya holds an unwavering view that he’s the best middleweight on the planet, and his record speaks for itself. He has been on a rampant run, wiping out almost the entire division. 

The stars are aligned for Adesanya to make his fifth title defense at UFC 276 with an opponent that prefers a stand-up battle. It is almost impossible for fighters to figure out the puzzle that is Izzy, who is revolutionizing the striking game inside the UFC, one fight at a time. In a sport that is evolving everyday, ‘Izzy’ has changed the way we perceive striking through his laser-sharp precision punches, exceptional footwork and seemingly unintelligible defense.

Izzy has successfully set in motion and established the feint game which was unique when MMA textbook striking is taken into consideration. He draws reactions out of his opponents through subtle movements and in doing so computes the data and launches his range of attacks. His path to victory would be to keep the fight in his desired range, stay outside of the pocket, and not get caught because Cannonier does possess some bombs in his hands.

As for Khabib, the Dagestani’s mentality is what separated him from the rest. The reason behind his phlegmatic comportment was his self-possessed, poised and cool-headed approach. He was determined in his mind that he is the best, and would walk down opponents with confidence. The famed Khabib pressure has broken the grit of the very best in the division, and as soon as he got a grip of them, the fight started to slip away.

His ground and pound was second to none, and if that wasn’t enough, he was a true master of weight distribution, posture and control. He would use every part of his body to maintain top control and tie up his opponent’s limbs masterfully. Take the Edson Barboza fight for example, Khabib walked him down, showing absolutely no respect to his striking, and when he took him down, he had his legs tied up, hips postured up that sat Edson down, allowing him no space to pull guard. He controlled Edson’s waist and lead hand on the ground with his weaker left hand, while he beat the pulp out of him for fifteen minutes.

So how would the fight between the two end up? Adesanya is the master of defense, and staying out of trouble. He is very good at fighting from his range, and it would be very difficult for Khabib to fight a much bigger opponent. But it’s also possible that Adesanya would eliminate kicks from his offensive onslaught, fearing Khabib’s takedowns. The Dagestani could catch his kicks and take Izzy down, and possibly control him on the ground, although it’s a difficult feat to achieve.

Khabib was seen dominating Luke Rockhold on the ground in a recent video, and many middleweights up to heavyweight have claimed that Khabib’s pressure from the top is second to none. But if Khabib is to be believed, Israel Adesanya might just pull off the victory if the pair ever fought.

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