It took Usman Nurmagomedov just five fights in the Bellator cage to become the promotion’s lightweight champion.

Nurmagomedov went the five-round distance for the first time in his career as he dominated defending champion Patricky Pitbull at Bellator 288 to dethrone the Brazilian in his first title defence.

Nurmagomedov looked a step ahead of Pitbull throughout the five-round fight, which formed the co-main event at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois, as he earned a shutout victory on all three scorecards, with final totals of 50-45, 50-44, 50-44.

Nurmagomedov established himself in the opening round as he set to work with his striking, targeting Pitbull with an impressive kicking arsenal that prevented the champion from getting his own punches away.

Despite being known predominantly as a striker, Nurmagomedov showed that his family’s much-vaunted grappling skills were also on tap as he stung his man with a big punch, then took Pitbull to the mat and showed the sort of control from top position we’ve been used to seeing in the past from his cousin, former UFC lightweight champion Khabib.

Nurmagomedov overwhelmed Pitbull on the ground and came close to finishing the Brazilian at the end of the second round, but time ran out on the Russian before he could claim a second-round finish.

Perhaps understandably after Nurmagomedov’s efforts to get the finish in Round 2, the following frame was slower paced, as Nurmagomedov largely kept things standing. But the action picked up in the final round as Pitbull, knowing he needed a finish, came flying out of his corner throwing heavy shots in an attempt to turn the fight in his favour.

Nurmagomedov quickly shut down Pitbull’s attack with a well-timed takedown that deprived the soon-to-be-dethroned champ any real chance to make a dramatic turnaround, as the bout eventually petered out in the closing moments.

He may not have claimed a finish, but the ease at which Nurmagomedov controlled the action against Pitbull suggests he’s going to take some shifting at the top of Bellator’s 155-pound division. And, at just 24 years of age, his best years are still way ahead of him.

Bellator 288: Official Results


  • Vadim Nemkov def. Corey Anderson via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) – light heavyweight grand prix final (for light heavyweight title)
  • Usman Nurmagomedov def. Patricky Pitbull via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44) – for lightweight title
  • Timur Khizriev def. Daniel Weichel via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Daniel James def. Tyrell Fortune via TKO (punches and elbows) – Round 2, 0:27
  • Levan Chokheli def. Roman Faraldo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)


  • Imamshafi Aliev def. Sean Connor Fallon via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 1, 3:20
  • Killys Mota def. Jairo Pacheco via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Archie Colgan def. Jesse Hannam via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:50
  • Sullivan Cauley def. Jay Radick via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:01
  • Jordan Newman def. Jayden Taulker via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:20
  • Laird Anderson def. Rob Fenicle via TKO (elbows and punches) – Round 2, 2:28
  • Isaiah Hokit def. Matias Nader via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:48
  • Wladimir Gouvea def. Kory Moegenburg via TKO (knee and punches) – Round 2, 1:46