Usman Nurmagomedov laughed after being asked whether the presence of his ex-UFC champion cousin, Khabib, had impacted him during his Bellator MMA debut win over Mike Hamel, where current star Umar Nurmagomedov also cornered him.
Hot prospect Nurmagomedov extended his perfect professional MMA record to 12 wins with a unanimous decision victory over American Hamel, putting on a solid display on his first appearance in the US to out-work ‘Magic’.
The hotly-tipped 22-year-old had his two combative cousins – Khabib, who has just retired as champion in his division in the UFC, and bantamweight Umar, who won on his UFC debut in January – as he made his first appearance in the US.
Sighing before offering a chuckle when he was asked about how he was affected by having MMA royalty in his corner, Nurmagomedov revealed: “It motivates me a lot.
“But at the same time, I feel a little bit of pressure because I have my brothers in my corner and I want to make them feel [proud].”
Talk has inevitably focused on whether Nurmagomedov felt he could one day claim the title that his most illustrious fighting relative held until recently, and the Russian has confirmed that he hopes to become a champion.
“Relax, be focused with a cool head, move forward and do what you’ve been doing in the gym every day,” he replied when he was asked what words of advice Khabib had offered him.
“I knew I could finish the fight but because it was my debut I felt a little bit of pressure and didn’t open myself up fully. I didn’t show you my full skillset.”
Writing before the fight, Khabib had told Nurmagomedov: “Brother, just go in there and do everything beautifully. Preparations were excellent and long – we hope only for the victory.”
With Ramadan little more than a week away, willing Nurmagomedov said he was unsure exactly when he might fight next.
Celebrated wrestlers Akhmed Chakaev and Roman Vlasov and kickboxing champions Alaverdi Ramazanov and Datsi Datsiev were among Nurmagomedov’s admirers to offer him their congratulations on Instagram.
He told his following of more than 330,000: “Go to your goal or stand still and complain that something is not working out for you.
“The choice is always yours. I have such a team that helps me in everything both mentally and physically Nurmagomedov – I am very grateful to the Almighty for this.
“Many thanks to everyone who [followed the fight] – I am very glad that it turned out to meet your expectations.”