One of the big stars that UFC President Dana White has is Khabib Nurmagomedov. Although he is currently retired, most feel that it is only temporary. But a question raised by many is how did “The Eagle” soar to greatness in the promotion.

Little is known on how the 32-year-old rose to fame in the UFC ranks. But it appears he got plenty of help from a friend, BRAVE lightweight champion Eldar Eldarov. The 29-year-old played a key part in linking Nurmagomedov and the UFC, something that took a lot of work.

But before that, how did Eldarov and Nurmagomedov become good friends? The answer to that is a fight.

Both Nurmagomedov and Eldarov had big dreams when they were still young, both wanting to make a name for themselves inside the cage. It reached a point where both had to fight one another for that honor.

“The Eagle” won that fight via TKO in the second round. Rather than end up as bitter rivals, the clash allowed their friendship to blossom.

“The fight was short notice. We only agreed to fight each other because we were both desperate to find fights,” Eldarov explained. “After the fight, we were together celebrating like nothing happened between us in the cage.”

From there, both knew that they are still far from their MMA dream. Nurmagomedov was getting attention from the UFC but somehow the link could not be established. Eldarov thought of reaching out since he was already on Facebook and knew how to speak English.

A requirement was for Nurmagomedov to show his list of fights and videos. It took a lot of work but the effort paid off. The UFC sent over a contract and “The Eagle” had a rough time believing it. That all calmed when Eldarov printed the contract and showed it to the Russian.

“We signed the contract immediately, but he (Abdulmanap) constantly reminded me to read it. He frequently asked questions like ‘What will they do in case of injury?’ or ‘Will there be medical insurance?’ Things like that. He just wanted Khabib to be safe,” Eldarov recalled.

Nurmagomedov would prove that is good as advertised, winning his first fight in 2012 against Kamal Shalorus. He would go on to become champion and the rest is history.

As for Eldarov, he too is busy with his mixed martial arts journey. He will defend his lightweight title at BRAVE 46 against Brazilian foe Leonardo Mafra in Sochi, Russia on Jan. 16. One of the curious spectators expected to watch is Nurmagomedov who will be rooting for his buddy.

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