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2015 Bloody Elbow MMA Scouting Report #3 Welterweight: Abubakar Nurmagomedov

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T.P. Grant and Zane Simon introduce the #3 Welterweight prospect, Khabib Nurmagomedov's little brother.

Hope you're ready for more Russians because T.P. Grant and Zane Simon have another comrade from Mother Russia in their #3 Welterweight spot.

To catch up you can go directly to your right and click on the article stream, but since that sounds like a lot of work just check out the links below:

Methodology and Criteria

Welterweight Prospects #6 - #10

Welterweight Prospect #5 - Ryan Scope

Welterweight Prospect #4 - Khusein Khaliev

So there is the link dump so you can catch up if you've missed any, let's move on to our next prospect:

#3 - Abubakar Nurmagomedov

Record: 8-1 Height: 5'11" Age: 24 Years Pro: 3.25

Country: Russia Team: Fight Spirit Team Base: Combat Sambo

The younger brother of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Abubakar is a Sambo fighter hailing from the downtrodden and combat sport talent-rich region of Dagestan. He trains out of his brother's home gym, Fight Spirit Team, also the home of recent UFC arrival and top prospect Islam Makhachaev. In Combat Sambo, Abubakar won Russian Nationals and has a bronze medal from the World Combat Sambo Championships, and he has transitioned those skills very successfully to MMA.

At this point, Abubakar has stayed mostly in small, very regional Russian shows and has faced a level of talent you'd expect to be on those kinds of shows. While this isn't ideal for a top prospect, Abubakar has treated them the way a top level talent should, and his lone loss was a cut against the incredibly legit prospect Magomed Mistafaev that stopped what was looking like an action packed and outstanding fight. His can filled record and loss to Mistafaev is what kept Nurmagomedov from finishing second overall on this list, but his talent is still obvious.

Strengths

T.P. Grant: The real core of the Nurmagomedov brother's game is wrestling. Abubakar has a very good, explosive step on his shot takedowns and is a strong finisher of take downs once he gets in on the hips and from there he is excellent at finishing singles and doubles with quick spins, dumps, and lifts. If an opponent is able to stop the shot Abubakar is able to transition quickly to his clinch game, which is mainly focused around getting a body lock. Once Nurmagomedov has a body lock he has a multi-directional throw game that makes his takedown game extremely diverse. His overall wrestling game is almost a carbon copy of his brother's and appears to be equally effective.

On the ground, Abubakar's base is very strong and he appears to have very heavy hips on top. There is a nastiness to his ground game as he lands creative and effective strikes from unexpected angles. His submission game isn't fully developed, but he can submit lesser ground fighters and he has a desire to just twist things the wrong way, which I really like in a fighter. His striking is still what I'll refer to "Combat Sambo striking": sound striking technique but mainly composed of throwing one or two kill shots at a time with almost no set up strikes and limited combinations. Abubakar does have a good straight right hand that seems to cover a lot more distance than opponents expect and seems to have decent power in it.

Zane Simon: Much like his brother, one of Abubakar's best assets is his uncanny timing. He just seems to know when opponents are in the perfect place to get hit by something hard. Coupled with the speed and power to throw those shots and land them, it makes a fundamentally basic striking game much, much more dangerous. His recent bout against Mustafaev showed a great deal more confidence in sitting down defensively as well, as he could be a bit over-reactive early in his career.

To go with his striking are the things he does really well. Nurmagomedov is a really diverse, technical wrestler, with the power to hit big slamming takedowns when needed, but the intricate trip and drag game to keep fighters controlled from the clinch, when facing better wrestlers. And once on the ground, he's great at finding and keeping advantageous positions to work ground and pound and search for submissions. While not as venomous a gnp fighter as his brother, his submission game looks a little more reliable, as he seems very adept at locking up an arm or a neck in transition.

Points of Development

T.P. Grant: As it stands Abubakar can close the distance against average and below average strikers by charging forward Chael Sonnen style. However, more advanced strikers can trap Abubakar on the outside, and when on the outside Abubakar has a tendency to freeze up and just absorb strikes waiting for a chance to get in on the inside. He can use strikes to effectively close distance, it is an inconsistent skill that he very much needs to improve if Abubakar wants to reach the upper levels of the sport.

Other than that his game is pretty darn close to being complete, his ground game is solidly above average but his submission game is not really going to be a weapon against upper level fighters, but it does not need to be for him to be successful.

Zane Simon: Abubakar's defensive striking is improving, but it needs improvement. He's far too willing to eat shots, just to wait for an opening, and can be a bit of a head up brawler when coming in. He's fast and strong enough to compensate for these things, but they're still problems. He's also not quite the dynamic ground and pound artist that his brother is. He stays busy and works hard from control positions, but hasn't quite found the fire in his strikes that make Khabib such a dangerous fighter to have on top of you.

Otherwise, and I worry a bit about this in relation to his ground and pound as a reflection of his ceiling, I'm not quite sure that he's as capable of being athletically dominant as Khabib is. His game is amazingly similar to his brother's and he shows a lot of great athletic skills, but he has yet to put on a singularly dominant performance against another good up and coming fighter. Until he does that, it's hard to get a bead on just how high his ceiling could be.

Although, to that point it should also be noted that Khabib essentially came up fighting too green talent and unexciting journeymen. Abubakar's bout against Mustafaev is arguably a much tougher matchup than anyone his brother took on in his pre-UFC run.

Overall Projection

Comparisons of Aubuakar to his brother Khabib are easy and not wrong, they are very similar fighters in terms of background, mindset, and skills in addition to being excellent athletes. At this point, Aubuakar skill set is behind his brother's and isn't contention ready but it certainly is UFC or Bellator ready. Much will depend on how Aubuakar can perform against upper-level talents. If he cannot hang with that upper crust he could very easily settle into a Gleison Tibau like role separating the weak from the strong in the division. If everything clicks for Aubuakar he could experience a rise through the Welterweight division very much like the one his brother has executed at Lightweight.

2015 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report

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Stay tuned for #2, to look up other articles in this series click on the Stream link up and to the right. For comments, questions, or suggestions head down to the comment line or reach out to T.P. and Zane on Twitter: @TP_Grant and @TheZaneSimon