‘Chaos’ Challenges Dagestani Dominance: ‘American Wrestling Is Much Better’

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‘Chaos’ Challenges Dagestani Dominance: ‘American Wrestling Is Much Better’

Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

It’s getting hard to deny that Father’s Plan is in full effect around the world.

Russia is producing MMA champions at an unprecedented rate, and many hail from the small mountainous region of Dagestan. Khabib Nurmagomedov broke down the door by dominating the Lightweight division and then walking away on top, but it hasn’t taken long for others to follow his path.

Khabib’s longtime training partner Islam Makhachev is the current Lightweight champion and one of the best pound-for-pound athletes on the roster, making him the most notable example. However, there are numerous other examples of Dagestani top contenders and champions, athletes like Magomed Ankalaev, Umar and Usman Nurmagomedov, and the Magomedsharipov brothers.

More often than not, these athletes are winning fights on the strength of their wrestling and top control. Despite the success, top-ranked Welterweight contender Colby Covington isn’t impressed. In his opinion, these athletes have been lucky to avoid match ups with truly decorated American wrestlers, because American wrestling is simply better.

“It’s been right time, right place,” Covington explained to MyMMANews (via SportsKeeda). “They’ve been able to fight guys that didn’t have wrestling backgrounds, you know. If they fought a guy that was a USA level wrestler like Olympic level wrestler, they’re gonna get smoked, it’s not even gonna be competitive.”

He continued, “American wrestling is much better, much more revolutionizing. Just a better style of wrestling that works in the UFC. You know, these guys have just been able to capitalize. Right time, right place, with the right matchups.”

Whether or not Dagestani or American wrestling is superior is certainly up for debate, but Covington’s argument does have some holes. For example, Justin Gaethje is an All-American wrestler like Covington himself, and that pedigree did not stop “The Eagle” from quickly submitting him in their 2020 title fight.

As for Olympians, well, the US isn’t the only country producing wrestling Olympic caliber wrestlers. Dagestan’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev, for example, is widely considered one of the best freestyle wrestlers alive, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who pinned the legendary Kyle Snyder in one of his many World Championship golds.

Regardless, it is true that All-American wrestlers like Michael Chandler could pose interesting challenges to dominant Dagestani grapplers like Islam Makhachev. That type of match up isn’t available for “Chaos” at Welterweight, unless Makhachev lives up to his word and eventually jumps in the 170-pound shark tank.

If Covington does indeed fight and defeat Leon Edwards for the title, it could well happen.