UFC debuts don’t come much better than Zabit Magomedshapirov’s and his coach Mark Henry was glowing with praise after the fight.
Magomedshapirov put on a clinic and showed off his wide array of striking on the feet and some impressive technique when the fight got taken to the mat. The Russian scored a second round submission victory against Mike Santiago and he had the crowd on their feet in the Ahoy Arena after he attempted a Anthony Pettis style “Showtime kick” midway through the first round.
Speaking exclusively to MMAUNO.com after the fight, Mark Henry said there’s no limit to the Russians capabilities.
— Jim Edwards (@MMA_Jim) September 2, 2017
“This kid man, I’m telling you, I’ve seen natural baseball players, natural football players, natural wrestlers, he’s the first one that I’ve seen that is a natural MMA fighter,” Henry said. “He’s just a natural everywhere and he does things that I’ve never seen before.”
Henry then explained how he came to work with Magomedshapirov and he heaped praise on the Russian’s other Dagestani coaches.
“Trust me that’s nothing,” Henry said, referring to Magomedshapirov’s Anthony Pettis “Showtime Kick” off the cage. “His coaches in Dagestan have done amazing things with him. We’re just here to help out to be a part of it. We have some many of these top-level Dagestani fighters with us now. These guys came over and they’re such gentlemen, such amazing guys. Ali Abdelaziz is also his manager and we have a very close relationship with Ali. He hooked him up with us.”
Magomedshapirov has a way to go until he can think about the UFC featherweight title, but Henry believes he will one day be the kingpin of the 145-pounds division.
“Trust me, he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Henry said. “Frankie is one of the best I’ve seen and so is Zabit.
“We don’t need Conor anymore, he can stick to boxing”
“This kid is his replacement. He’s better than him. Better kicks, better striking, better jiu-jitsu. Trust me, he’s better everywhere.”
Despite his wild antics inside the cage, Magomedshapirov is a quiet character outside of it. Henry explained they were working on it and that his teammates are playing a big part in pushing him on in his development.
“He’s a little shy, but we’re getting there with him,” Henry said smiling. “He’s doing alright man. The fight just happened so we will sit back and asses everything. I think he’s already ready for top-ten guys. We feel just blessed that he’s got Frankie [Edgar], Eddie [Alvarez], Marlon [Moraes], Edson [Barboza] and Frankie Perez, all pushing him. These are all guys he spars with on a regular basis so they all just make each other better.”