Dagestan: Land of Warriors

Dagestan: Land of Warriors . Umar Nurmagomedov and Timur Valiev prepare for their MMA fights

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MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) emerged in the 1990s in the United States as a way to pit fighters trained in different martial arts against each other. Since then, MMA has acquired a few more rules, and its fighters finesse, as well as a huge following. Surprisingly, one far-flung corner of Russia has flooded the sport with top competitors: the Caucasian Republic of Dagestan, which boasts a longstanding martial arts tradition.

Eagles of Dagestan MMA training camp. Still taken from RT Sport documentary Dagestan: land of Warriors, Episode 2.
Eagles of Dagestan training camp was set up by famous coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the father of Khabib Nurmagomedov, to nurture the next generation of top MMA fighters.

To find out what lies behind Dagestan’s MMA boom, RT Sport follows a young MMA fighter from New Jersey, Paul Cataldo, on a trip to the Republic. Paul is invited by his friend Timur Valiev. A successful MMA fighter in the United States, Timur is now preparing for his first fight in six years in his homeland.

Scrum during Eagles of Dagestan MMA training camp. Still taken from RT Sport documentary Dagestan: land of Warriors, Episode 2.
To get perfectly warmed up, Eagles of Dagestan's MMA fighters play their own "Dagestani" version of rugby.

Episode 2 takes a sneak peek at final fight preparations at the famous Eagles of Dagestan training camp. This is run by legendary coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the father of one of the UFC’s most famous champions, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Dagestan’s most exacting trainer. One of Abdulmanap’s trainees is his nephew, young up-and-coming MMA fighter Umar Nurmagomedov. Umar opens up on the weight of expectations placed on him because of his famous cousin Khabib and explains why it’s impossible to avoid learning to fight when you grow up in Dagestan.

MMA fighter Umar Nurmagomedov. Still taken from RT Sport documentary Dagestan: land of Warriors, Episode 2.
Like his cousin Khabib Nurmagomedov, a famous UFC champion, Umar Nurmagomedov trains meticulously to achieve MMA greatness.

After a warm-up session involving “Dagestani rugby”, Umar gets in some last minute grappling with Zubaira Tukhugov, an experienced UFC fighter, while a former UFC world champion, Shamil Zavurov, shares his views on the young hopeful. Now, both Umar and Timur just have to weigh in and watch their diets.

Zubaira Tukhugov wrestling with Umar Nurmagomedov. Still taken from RT Sport documentary Dagestan: land of Warriors, Episode 2.
Each established UFC fighter such as Zubaira Tukhugov motivates several youngsters like Umar Nurmagomedov to take up MMA fighting and put Dagestan on the map through martial arts.

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