The search to find Umar Nurmagomedov a willing opponent has finally concluded.
After multiple attempts and failures to book him against ranked opposition, UFC matchmakers needed to go outside the promotion to find Nurmagomedov (16-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) a dance partner, as Kazakhstan’s Bekzat Almakhan (17-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has agreed to the task. The two fighters will collide March 2 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Two people with knowledge of the matchup recently informed MMA Junkie of the booking but asked to remain anonymous as the promotion has yet to make an official announcement. The news was first reported by @FrontKicked on X.
Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, of Dominance MMA, posted on X that the matchmaking process ahead of this fight was unlike any other he’s witnessed. Additional sources told MMA Junkie that at least two top-10 contenders turned down the Nurmagomedov fight.
“I never seen UFC working hard to find somebody to fight,” Abdelaziz wrote. “He’s a lot more harder to get Fight! for then Islam, Kamaru Usman, and Khabib.”
Nurmagomedov, 28, is the younger cousin of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. He’s made quite the impact in the span of only four fights, as he’s viewed in the promotion’s eyes as a fighter worthy of top-10 matchups. Nurmagomedov was expected to headline an event vs. Cory Sandhagen in August, but withdrew due to injury. His UFC wins to date include Raoni Barcelos, Nate Maness, Brian Kelleher, and Sergey Morozov.
Almakhan, 26, has 15 finishes in 17 victories including 13 knockouts. He enters the promotion on a nine-fight winning streak that dates back to June 2021. Almakhan most recently competed under the Octagon and UAE Warriors banners.
With the addition, the UFC Fight Night lineup for March 2 includes:
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Shamil Gaziev
Bekzat Almakhan vs. Umar Nurmagomedov
Muhammad Mokaev vs. Alex Perez
Yanis Ghemmouri vs. Vinicius Oliveira
Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady vs. Loik Radzhabov
Eryk Anders vs. Jamie Pickett
Joel Alvarez vs. Ludovit Klein
Javid Basharat vs. Aiemann Zahabi
Josefine Knutsson vs. Julia Polastri
Brendon Marotte vs. Mohammad Yahya
Tyson Pedro vs. Vitor Petrino
Stephen Erceg vs. Matt Schnell
Christian Duncan vs. Claudio Ribeiro
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for the UFC Fight Night event March 2.