Usman Nurmagomedov makes his much anticipated Bellator debut on April 2nd. Welcoming him to the Bellator cage is the hard-hitting ‘Magic’ Mike Hamel. The exciting lightweight clash will serve as Bellator 255’s co-main event. Many fight fans will doubt be tuning in to see the younger cousin of Khabib Nurmagomedov take his first steps into top-level MMA.
Usman Nurmagomedov – 11-0
The name Nurmagoemdov has been strongly associated with wrestling and sambo skills as of late. Khabib Nurmagomedov, and his father/coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, carved a way through the UFC lightweight division, defeating every opponent with this dominating approach.
However, whilst Usman does share this sambo wrestling background, you would not necessarily be able to tell by watching his previous fights. The young prospect is a lethal striker with a high-pressure style that has led to 7 (T)KO finishes in his 11 fight career. He utiles his height to throw out snapping round kicks to corral his opponents against the cage before picking them apart with straight shots. He has also shown an aptitude for the low calf kick has that has been used to such devastating effect in modern MMA.
Although when he does decide to implement his wrestling, the comparisons to Khabib are instantly there. Picking up single legs with a relentless drive to the cage, securing the Dagestani handcuff once his opponent hits the mat. However, in his most recent fight with Svyatoslav Shabanov, he was unable to keep his opponent on the mat after securing the takedown.
‘Magic’ Mike Hamel – 7-4
Mike Hamel is also a high-paced pressure fighter. Though where Nurmagomedov controls his opponent from the outside with his arsenal of kicks, Hamel appears most comfortable in the pocket, letting his heavy hands do the work. Nearly every punch he throws is done so with bad intent. However, he tends to wind up his shots, which has led to him being countered in the past.
Like his opponent, Hamel has a decorated wrestling background. He has a strong clinch game with good head position. He also has shown good reactive takedowns in the past. However, once again, he does have a weakness in this aspect of his game. The ease in which Jordan Winski caught him in an armbar definitely raises warning bells. However, it is notable Hamel has fought 4 times since then and has not looked in danger from submission again.
This fight is all about introducing Usman Nurmagomedov to Bellators fans. That is not to say that Hamel lacks in threats. ‘Magic’ Mike hits hard, hard enough to KO Nurmagomedov with one punch. But his overextension in his punches leaves him so open. There is a strong chance that Nurmagomedov will capitalize on an opening and catch Hamel with a hard straight. Nurmagomedov’s recent use of debilitating calf kicks may also pay dividends, with Hamel heavily reliant on his movement. There is a strong argument to be made that Nurmagomedov will hold the advantage on the feet.
The interesting aspect of this fight is in the grappling exchanges. It could well come down to who shoots for a takedown first. These men both have wrestling backgrounds and are rarely on the receiving end of a takedown heavy approach. Nurmagomedov appears to be slightly more well-rounded, has demonstrated good jiu-jitsu in the past. However, this is usually from a dominant position that was established by the initial takedown. Should Hamel land Nurmagomedov on his back, he may be able to have some major success. Saying that, one would think training with Khabib Nurmagomedov would give you ample time to practice defending from compromising wrestling situations.
Bellator 255 will take place on April 2nd. The headline bout will be between Patricio Pitbull Freire and Emmanuel Sanchez. The co-headline will, of course, be between Usman Nurmagomedov and Mike Hamel.
Who do you see winning this exciting matchup? Let us know in the comments.