Speaking to Ilya Trifanov on Match TV, Nurmagomedov said that the fight against Tibau not only tested his physical competency, but also his mental aptitude.
"I didn't have easy fights. Maybe from the outside, it seemed so. But the hardest (fight) was in 2012 when I was 24. It was a fight against Gleison Tibau. He was on a good winning streak, was in the top 15 best lightweights in the world. This fight was difficult both emotionally and physically," said Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov noted that although Tibau was his toughest opponent, he considers his fight against Conor McGregor to be the most important one.
After submitting Kamal Shalorus in his UFC debut, The Eagle locked horns with Tibau in his second fight in the promotion, which remained largely competitive. However, all three judges scored the contest in Nurmagomedov's favor. But, how did the fight go?
What happened in Khabib Nurmagomedov's fight against Gleison Tibau?
Gleison Tibau was evidently the favorite to win the fight, as he was coming off a big victory against Rafael dos Anjos. The Brazilian had snatched five wins in his last six matches and clearly had the upper hand, at least on the paper, going into the fight.
As Khabib Nurmagomedov mentioned himself, Tibau was on a winning streak and belonged in the top 15 of the lightweight division, which gave him an edge over his Russian opponent.
Although Tibau came close to halt Nurmagomedov's undefeated run, the Brazilian's efforts weren't enough to convince the judges that he got the better of The Eagle.
Tibau was successfully able to defend Khabib Nurmagomedov's takedowns, which is in itself a rare sight. In fact, he defended all 13 takedown attempts by The Eagle. In addition to that, Tibau also landed more significant strikes, according to UFC Stats.
What possibly worked in Khabib Nurmagomedov's favor was how he dictated the fight. The Eagle enjoyed a massive ground control time of four minutes and 26 seconds, although he didn't inflict much damage, it was enough for the judges to choose a winner.
Also, what must be noted is that Tibau was tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO) in 2015.Published 29 Dec 2020, 06:35 IST