Tagir Ulanbekov made a successful octagon debut on Saturday when he beat Bruno Silva at UFC on ESPN+ 37, and he dedicated the win to Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
Ulanbekov (11-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who beat Silva (10-6-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) by unanimous decision in their flyweight bout at Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, is a teammate of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and was one of many fighters in his father Abdulmanap’s stable before he passed away in July.
After winning the biggest fight of his career thus far, Ulanbekov said he did it for Abdulmanap’s memory and hopes it sets a foundation for Khabib to beat Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 this month.
“I want to dedicate this victory to our coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. Rest in peace,” Ulanbekov said following UFC on ESPN+ 37. “This fight was a big responsibility for me, I had to motivate my teammates Khabib and Islam (Makhachev). They are fighting on upcoming cards. I didn’t fight the way I wanted. Everybody says the first fight in UFC, you get too much pressure and everything, and I guess it’s true. I felt it, as well.”
It wasn’t an easy win for the Russian, but he said he’s proud to have risen to the moment.
“I wanted to keep the fight standing, and I thought I would go through him much easier,” Ulanbekov said. “I didn’t expect the fight to be this hard. It was one of my hardest fights to date. This was a long training camp. I was supposed to fight before, but I didn’t unfortunately. I didn’t fight because Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov died. So it was just pretty much a six-month, non-stop training camp, so now I want to rest.”