Umar Nurmagomedov extended his unbeaten record with victory in Las Vegas on Saturday night
UFC boss Dana White says surging bantamweight contender Umar Nurmagomedov is “ready for anything,” after the Russian fighter scored a brutal knockout win over Brazil’s Raoni Barcelos in the first round of their bout at UFC Fight Night 217 in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Nurmagomedov flattened Barcelos with a savage left hook after stepping in for a kick with 20 seconds remaining of the opening round. The Russian followed up with a hammerfist on the ground but Barcelos was already out cold as referee Jason Herzog waved off the fight.
Dagestani star Nurmagomedov was without the presence of famous cousin Khabib in his corner at the UFC Apex, after the retired lightweight legend made the decision to step away from MMA this year, but the 27-year-old nonetheless got the job done in impressive fashion to extend his unbeaten record inside the UFC Octagon to 4-0 and 16-0 overall in his career.
UFC president White revealed in his post-event press conference that he had already spoken to Nurmagomedov about what lies in store, with the Russian in a hurry to fight competition higher up the 135lbs ranks.
“He actually wanted to come back and talk to me tonight,” White told the media. “He’s going home for a week and then he’s coming back here and he said he’s ready for anything we bring to him. I love that attitude and I’m excited about that kid.”
When asked if Nurmagomedov could potentially be thrown back into competition at UFC 285 on March 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, White said he would discuss how the land lies with fellow management before making a decision.
“Well, he’s coming right back, he’s leaving for a week… We’ll probably turn him around quick, when guys want to turn around quick, I love that. It’s about finding the right opponent. There’s a lot of fights that are already happening in that division… I don’t know, Tuesday, we’ll start looking at it,” said White.
Nurmagomedov had stepped things up as the opening round wore on against Barcelos, showcasing some slick striking – especially making use of kicks. The victory was a first by KO for Nurmagomedov inside the UFC, with his previous wins with the promotion coming via two submissions and a unanimous decision.
Barcelos became his latest victim as the Brazilian slipped to his third defeat in his past four fights, having won each of his first five contests with the promotion.
Raked number 11 heading into Saturday night’s action, Nurmagomedov used his post-fight interview to call out anyone willing to face him in March. He also apologized for landing a further blow on the downed Barcelos, saying he had not been aware that the Brazilian was already completely out when he hit the deck.
Watching from afar, Khabib Nurmagomedov expressed his approval of his cousin’s performance, issuing an Instagram post with a clip of the KO and describing it as a “statement.” Teammate and current UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev also heaped praise on Umar Nurmagomedov, sending his congratulations in a social media post and predicting: “He will be champion.”