One of the top prospects in mixed martial arts has signed a new deal with Bellator MMA. Usman Nurmagomedov, cousin of undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, has signed an exclusive multi-year, multi-fight deal with the promotion, Bellator MMA announced on Friday.
Khabib shared the news on his Instagram account on Friday morning along with a photo of the cousins together at training.
"With today's signing of Usman Nurmagomedov, we are making it clear that Bellator is home to the best fighters on the planet and an organization where the sport's future stars are coming to compete," Bellator president Scott Coker said in a press release confirming the news. "I am thrilled to have Usman join the promotion and he will be placed in an immediate position to showcase his skills and contend at 155 pounds. We hope to have him in action inside the Bellator cage by December or January."
Nurmagomedov is a perfect 11-0 in his professional MMA career, which began in 2017, with only one fight making it to the judges' scorecards. He has finished seven fights by knockout and three by submission, including a current five-fight streak of finishes, culminating in his most recent victory at a September tribute event for Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Khabib's father and trainer who died earlier this year.
Nurmagomedov is expected to compete in the lightweight division for Bellator, which is among the deepest on the roster. The 155-pound division includes double champion at 145 and 155 Patricio "Pitbull" Friere, his brother Patricky "Pitbull" Freire, Sidney Outlaw, Brent Primus, Benson Henderson, Goiti Yamauchi and Chris Gonzalez. Former champion Michael Chandler recently left the promotion after an extended run to sign with UFC. He'll serve as the backup for Khabib's next title fight against Justin Gaethje.
Usman Nurmagomedov is just the latest young talent to sign with Bellator MMA, who has taken a new approach in free agency. While still gathering some of the aging veterans, the promotion is bringing in a crop of young talent they hope pop over the next few years, including Aaron Pico, Valerie Loureda and recently crowned light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov.