Capping off the night at Bellator 300, a milestone event for the long-running MMA promotion, was a lightweight grand prix semifinal and title fight.
Usman Nurmagomedov, the undefeated cousin and heir apparent at least in terms of the family name to Khabib Nurmagomedov (spiritually, UFC champ Islam Makhachev would be in the mix too, of course) looked to defend his title and move on in the tournament against ex-champ Brent Primus.
Nurmagomedov was a heavy favorite coming into the fight.
The champ doubled up on some leg kicks early on, while Primus looked to stay in his face. Nurmagomedov switched stances, while Primus charged in, initiating a clinch until a knee landed for the champ. Nurmagomedov then fired a nasty-looking spinning back kick that came real close to connecting. They clinched up along the fence; Nurmagomedov connected with an elbow off the break. Primus did connect with a low kick, but Nurmagomedov fired one of his own back.
With two minutes to go, Primus fired a spinning back fist that was at least partially blocked. Having showed off his arsenal on the feet a little, Nurmagomedov then landed his first takedown, with apparent ease. They’d close out the round there.
Round two saw Primus close the distance, leading to a clinch. That didn’t last long, and Nurmagomedov continued to have the upper hand on the feet. Distance management with his wide array of kicks was key for the lightweight champ, leaving Primus stuck outside more often than not. Primus would land the occasional strike, but couldn’t put anything together.
The ex-champ would change levels for a takedown attempt with about 90 seconds remaining in the second round, to no avail. Primus would try a spinning kick of his own up high, but the wheel kick hit air, and appeared in slow motion in comparison to Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov was easily up two rounds heading into the third; Primus managed to land to the body, but again, the champ’s kicks were the more effective of the pair. Nurmagomedov began leading with elbows, showing off his creativity, and when he connected to the midsection with a kick, Primus backpedaled. Nurmagomedov showed effective defense, and landed flush on the chin later in the third round. While the champ managed to put combinations together, Primus appeared to be stuck in first gear still.
Entering the championship rounds, Nurmagomedov was almost certainly holding a clean sweep of the scorecards. For Primus to win, he’d need to find a finish, or somehow at least pull off a 10-8. Two of them, unless he was hunting for a draw. Even securing one against the near-perfect Nurmagomedov seemed unlikely. Early in the round, Primus shot in on a takedown, but that backfired. The champ reversed position, but Primus used the fence to stay up — caught red handed by the ref, the pair were restarted, and Nurmagomedov, getting the position back, finished a takedown.
That gave Usman Nurmagomedov lots of time to get to work on top. Primus wound up bloodied just a little. They’d head to round five, which felt almost perfunctory. Save for a hail Mary from Brent Primus, the winner of the fight was in little bout. Nurmagomedov didn’t shy away from engaging, but he did tie Primus up against the cage just over two minutes in, eating more time off the clock. Time that Primus was quickly running out of.
Primus pawed at his nose, his face bloodied again after being opened up in the fourth. Two minutes to go, and the champ dumped Primus on his back, landing a takedown. He’d work the challenger over a little before the final bell — the end result never in question.
With the win, Usman Nurmagomedov improves to 18-0, retains his lightweight title, and advances to the final of the lightweight grand prix. He’ll face the winner of next months Alexander Shabliy vs. Patricky Pitbull with a million dollars on the line.
Official Result: Usman Nurmagomedov def. Brent Primus by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)