Video and photo of the fight
November 12, 2016, turned a new page in the UFC history. The New York City ban on mixed martial arts was finally lifted. The Madison Square Garden arena was to host the PPV UFC 205 event.
Khabib Nurmagomedov was very excited to perform at this particular competition because the biggest Russian community in the US lives in New York. Khabib’s opponent was probably the most brutal striker. He had been trained by Henri Hooft from Blackzilians gym, the fastest hands in the division. Michael Johnson was coming back as a regenerated phoenix after a convincing win over Dustin Poirier, a fighter from a competing gym – AMERICAN TOP TEAM.
Course of combat:
The fight starts with Khabib’s cautious actions. His movements along the cage, the distance and the arm position demonstrates impenetrable defence against Johnson’s potential attacks. Michael is trying to reach the Eagle by low kicks and long crosses, but Khabib acts strictly by the game plan. A minute later, the Eagle, anxious for the fight, attempts to get closer, which Johnson uses to his benefit. His kicks get through Khabib's defence. One and a half minute after the start of the fight, Michael produces a couple of big accurate shots and he seems to have Khabib shaken. Each punch of such a top notch striker can be the last, and Khabib knows it too well. The Russian collects himself together. He finds his distance and listens attentively to his corner. The cornermen shout in one voice: ‘Fight!’ Last seconds of the second minute. Khabib finds his distance, covers the takedown with hand strikes, grapples Johnson against the cage and throws him down to canvas over his knee. In par terre, the Russian’s polished wrestling skills save the game. Khabib easily takes both Michael’s hands, assumes the crucifix position and starts hammering the American in the head, like a hammersmith in his workroom. The rest of the round goes to Khabib’s benefit.
Michael Johnson starts the round with long overhands attempting to reach Khabib. But the Eagle’s combative mind, that equals his wrestling skills, stays cool and keeps him at the calculated distance. A couple of minutes later, Johnson is again on his back, and Khabib gets more than three minutes to his advantage. Again the crucifix position and again no mercy. Each Khabib’s punch brings Michael closer to Parkinson. Between the blows, Khabib tells him to quit. Never in the history of MMA has a fighter felt so confident in his power and skills, that he managed to speak about it to the opponent while maintaining the even breath. The crowd sees the Dagestani’s dominance and the helplessness of the American. The most sensitive viewers, those on the back rows, definitely shed a few tears. The drama between the rounds at the Madison Square Garden arena deserves a separate film. After the second round, everybody knew who was going to win. From his corner, Khabib addresses the UFC promotion president Dana White: “Be careful I'm gonna smash your boy”. He’s talking about Irish Conor McGreggor. While Khabib was away from competition, McGregor became the champion in the featherweight division and was scheduled to fight with Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight championship. Dana White was trying hard to bring Khabib back to the fight, not realizing that the Russian fighter was already the champion. “Finish this fight before the bell rings!” said White. He probably thought the Eagle couldn’t do it.
Khabib raises his hands before the start, as if to show the fight is over, the audience roars, and the referee waves his hand to start the third round.
Michael is already exhausted, Khabib sees it and feeds him with an uppercut straight in the chin. In standing, Khabib looks more dangerous than Johnson: almost all his attacks get to the goal. But Khabib is especially good in wrestling, and that is where he drives Johnson 30 seconds after the round start. The Russian fighter pins Johnson against the cage and starts beating him, though rarely. He doesn’t want to get Michael injured. “Give up. You know that I deserve the title fight,” Khabib keeps saying between the punches. But the warrior inside Michael Johnson does not let go, which is probably not the best idea. Khabib assumes a dominant full mount position, locks the opponent’s arms with his legs leaving him no chance to defend himself, and starts literally beating his fists into Michael’s head. The referee looks uncertain: he probably wants to stop the fight, but Khabib is not waiting for his decision – he starts switching from one position to another. Side control and switch to kimura. As Khabib admitted later, he was deliberately pulling his shoulder too slowly because he wanted him to really feel the pain and have an option to avoid a serious damage by tapping.
Once again, Khabib secures an early finish. In his interview to Joe Rogan after the bout, he decided to speak out.
"I want to stay humble, but I have to talk because you guys talk too much. I understand how crazy powerful the UFC PR machine is. I want to fight your chicken. Ireland only has like 6 million people. In Russia, there are 150 million people. I want to fight your chicken for the title. I don’t care that there are only few of my fans here, thousands of Russian fans are watching my fight in the cinema. I am thankful to Michael Johnson. Joe Rogan, you are one of the biggest analyst guys, you’ve been 20 years with MMA, what do you think? Do I deserve a title shot or not?