Pat “Bam Bam” Healy and Khabib Nurmagomedov have been given an assignment to get the UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson main card started, the position that Healy is far too familiar with having taken on Jim Miller at UFC 159 in April under those same circumstances. For Nurmagomedov, his first and only appearance on a UFC main card was also an impressive showing in the opening bout, when he stunned Thiago Tavares with a lunging upper-hook and pounced on him for a brutal first-round finish.
Bam Bam is the type of grinding wrestler that can also chain together submissions really well as soon as he brings the fight to the ground. His defensive and offensive guard is also very rare for a powerful wrestler, which helps keep him out of danger when he gets knocked down. Constant forward pressure will be needed in order for Healy to pull off the win this Saturday (9/21/13) in Toronto. Nurmagomedov may be undefeated, but he has never run into a brick wall like Healy, and we’ve seen the Russian Sambo champion slow after a round or two and not look as dangerous as he does in the first frame.
Nurmagomedov, who says he has some surprises for his opponent on Saturday, is coming off a decisive decision win over Abel Trujilo at UFC 160, where he maintained control of Trujillo for the majority of the fight, and he didn’t even make the 155lb weight limit. Now compare that to Healy’s last fight – a somewhat surprising fight and submission of the night win over a seasoned UFC veteran – and you might think Healy’s got this one in the bag.
That’s because the nonstop pressure of the Oregonian should be enough to stifle the power punches from Nurmagomedov. The Russian fighter wings his hooks with reckless abandon and doesn’t really use a precision striking attack. Much like Healy, Nurmagomedov’s standup is mostly there just to set up his clinch to suplex, ground-and-pound and submissions. There aren’t many fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division with the same tendencies as the two who will square off in the opening bout on the UFC 165 pay-per-view fight card.
If Healy can capitalize on any over aggressiveness, and not leave a big enough gap between the two for his opponent to be able to land his punch, then you can look ahead to the next bout on the main card, because Bam Bam will be plowing the smaller fighter against the fence to feed him knuckle sandwiches for three rounds.
We haven’t seen how Nurmagomedov does when he fights defensively early on in the fight, and I think we’re going to find out once the brute wrestler begins to push forward and show the undefeated fighter a different look than he’s opposed to dealing with. Healy’s got the bigger frame, so he’s got to use it to his advantage as soon as the first bell sounds.
If that doesn’t work, then expect a fired up Khabib looking to KO Healy in the opening round. Either way, it makes for an intriguing fight between two strong grapplers with a unique style and approach at lightweight.