What we see with MMA wrestlers of similar ability, vis-a-vis the UFC, is that their wrestling tends to cancel-out each other out. This was the default behavior seen in:

  • Covington vs Usman (1 & 2)
  • Covington vs Maia
  • Weidman vs Soza
  • Ect

In situations where one fighter has an edge on the ground, offensive wrestling can become the dominant tactic. Khabib, Makhachev et all are prime examples here. Over the past decade or so, rugged conditioning and elite-level sambo have led to these types of fighters to bulldoze their way past pretty much all other styles. That just leaves one question.

Suppose Zabit moved up to lightweight or Umar Nurmogemedov moved up to lightweight and had to face Islam Makhachev. I don't believe the MMA community has seen what happens when two ultra-elite sambo fighters square off.


In a ultra-elite sambo vs sambo context, would the same wrestler vs wrestler logic apply or should we use a different analytical framework? Why or why not?

Note: I'm clearly assuming the fight would happen in the first place. There could be cultural / ethical reasons as to why two Dagestanis wouldn't fight each other, but let's suppose they did purely for the sake of analysis.

1 Answer 1


If they actually are evenly matched up then it would probably come down to other skills (ie striking) and/or opportunity.

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