|Typical Dagestani attire|
Fighters come from all over the world, and if they end up being moderately non-terrible, they will probably end up fighting for a major American-based promotion. In recent years, fighters from the Russian republic of Dagestan have emerged as top fighters, generally with a strong sambo background. So now I'm going to run through some top-level Dagestani fighters, going from smallest to largest, even though that means I'll end up talking about the most notable guys right in the middle of this post.
UFC Flyweight - Ali "Puncher King" Bagautinov
Ali Bagautinov had a pretty good UFC debut, showcasing his nickname of "Puncher King" with a third round knockout, and followed that up with another impressive performance against Daniel Bryan/Mose Schrute-hybrid lookalike, Tim Elliott. He is unbeaten in three years and ten fights, with five TKO and two submission victories during that span.
Bellator Featherweight - Magomedrasul "Frodo" Khasbulaev
The Hobbit-named fighter has been putting on impressive performances in Bellator, showcasing the kind of grit and scrappiness only found in a halfling tasked with transporting the One Ring to Mount Doom (Facing Daniel Straus for the Featherweight title), as he's undefeated in the past three years and nine fights.
Check out more rad Dagestanis after the jump!
Bellator Featherweight - Shahbulat "Assassin" Shamhalaev
Shamhalaev is a fearsome puncher in the 145 pound division, knocking out all three of his season seven tournament opponents. His title fight ended in him getting choked out by Pat Curran, and Shahbulat pulled out of the season nine tournament to take care of his sick father, but I fully expect him to return to the Bellator cage soon and continue knocking out his opposition.
UFC Lightweight - Rustam "Tiger" Khabilov
Khabilov had probably one of the best octagon debuts, suplexing the life out of Vinc Pichel in a little more than two minutes. He then suplexed Yancy Medeiros' thumb out of socket and next had a pretty amazing fight with Jorge Masvidal. Rustam is unbeaten in three years, six fights.
UFC Lightweight - Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov
Nurmagomedov is pretty much the leader of this Dagestani invasion, standing tall at the head of the charge with his papakha and troll shirt, ready to take on all comers. The only hiccup in Nurmagomedov's current run is when he missed weight against Abel Trujillo at UFC 160, but the extra three pounds still allowed him to suplex and take down Trujillo a record 21 times on 27 attempts. Nurmagomedov is currently undefeated at 21-0. Additionally, while he has denied that he's in a video wrestling a bear as a nine year old, I choose to believe he did wrestle a bear at nine, it's just not that particular video.
Bellator Middleweight - Sultan Aliev
Aliev is fairly new to American audiences, with just two fights in Bellator, with most of his previous fights taking place in either Russia, Dagestan, or Ukraine. Aliev had a good debut against Mikkel Parlo, and then lost an inexplicable split decision to Doug Marshall, despite controlling the majority of the fight on the ground. Aliev had been undefeated at 9-0 prior to the Marshall decision.
UFC Middleweight - Omari "Lakec" Akhmedov
Akhmedov's UFC debut was a wild one. He had a back-and-forth, three-and-a-half minute fight with Thiago Perpetuo that saw both men staggered with punches before Akhmedov finally finished things off. Omari is currently undefeated at 12-0.
Retired Heavyweight - Volk Han
I've written extensively about Han previously on this blog. Go check it out!
Suffice to say, I welcome these new, fearsome Dagestani murder-machines. May their suplexes always land with ferociousness!