A UFC Fighter Mixes up His Dagestanis

Fightland Blog

By Josh Rosenblatt

File this under “Mistakes I’m Ashamed as a Professional Journalist I’ve Made Myself” or “Linguistic Mishaps in Our Rapidly Shrinking World” or, maybe, “Mixed Martial Artists: They’re Just Like Us.”

According to this article from Globo TV Sports, Brazilian lightweight contender Rafael dos Anjos, who is scheduled to fight Dagestani lightweight Rustam Khabilov at UFC 170 in February, apparently thought he was scheduled to fight Dagestani lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 170 in February instead. What happened is that dos Anjos' manager, Ed Soares, misunderstood UFC officials when they were planning the fight, and when he took the fight offer to his client, he told him, "The UFC is giving you the Russian." At that point, dos Anjos, who, most likely, has had limited exposure to Dagestan and who has his eyes on a title shot, simply assumed that the UFC was giving him Nurmagomedov, who, like dos Anjos, is ranked in the top 10, rather than Khabilov, who isn't. dos Anjos just assumed the wrong Dagestani.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but when I read this story I thought to myself, “There’s at least a 50% chance I would have thought the same thing." I've made the same mistake with Khabilov and Nurmagomedov before, the same way I’ve mistaken Brazilian Thiago Silva for both Paolo Thiago and Thiago Alves. The world is inherently a better place the more we all mix together and blur borders, but even the most well-intentioned and devout multiculturalist is still at the mercy of his fading memory and tin ear. 

So, as a service to Mr. dos Anjos as he prepares for his fight, we've prepared this quick to guide to help him differentiate.

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov is the guy who wears hats like this:

2. Rustam Khabilov is the guy who will be standing in the cage with you two months from now, trying his best to suplex you until your head comes off your body.

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