Why Are Dagestani Fighters So Good?

The dominance of Dagestani fighters is so evident in MMA, it all started with Khabib when he joined the UFC in 2012.

At that moment, Khabib was the first and only Dagestani fighter in the UFC. A couple of years later, a whole squad of Dagestani fighters joined the UFC.

Then the Dagestanis took over, Khabib became champion then retired, and promised that his successor will be another Dagestani as well, Islam Makhachev.

Dagestani Fighters

Khabib literally said that 2 years after his retirement Islam Makhachev is going to be the champion.

Khabib retired in October 2020. In October 2022 Islam Makhachev submitted Charles Oliveira and became champion exactly as Khabib predicted.

This is not a coincidence, this shows the dominance of the Dagestanis and how confident they are.

Now, the question that everybody is asking is; why Dagestani fighters are so dominant?

Dagestani Fighters

Here are the main reasons why Dagestani fighters are so dominant:

1. The long history of war in Dagestan made their men tough

The Dagestanis geographically were always at the center of the conflicts between the Persian empire, the Russian empire and the Ottomans.

The Dagestanis were always fighting against someone, depending on their alliances.

Centuries of war have created a culture of toughness and warriorship. Dagestani men are well known for being very manly. Masculinity is promoted as a high-quality feature in men.

Historically speaking, Dagestanis had fought for centuries against the russian empire to stay free.

Dagestani Fighters

The Russian orthodox emperors always led raids against the Muslim Dagestanis, the difference in religion made them a target.

Most of their men had to go to war to defend the land, the reason why aggressiveness and manly features are seen as high qualities in the region.

This could differ from the US or Western Europe for example, where society sees manly features as toxic masculinity.

2. Poverty 

Although Dagestan is rich in natural resources such as oil and gas, it is one of the poorest republics within the Russian Federation.

The chances to get a good job in Dagestan are very slim, which is why youngsters turn to MMA for a better future.

3. Religion

Do you remember Khabib vs. Conor? Do you remember how Conor came unprepared?

Conor was partying during fight camp while Khabib was working hard in the mountains of Dagestan, he came to the fight like a grizzly bear.

This contrast shows how religion keeps the Dagestanis disciplined. All they do is wake up, pray, train, and eat. Partying with girls is Haram, which means forbidden in Islam.

Meanwhile, their opponents struggle with alcohol, parties, girls, relationships, etc. all the distractions! No wonder why they come so unprepared, out of shape, and distracted.

Dagestani Fighters

4. Altitude

Dagestan is a mountainous area, it is situated in the Caucasus mountains. This gives Dagestani fighters a huge cardio advantage in cardio over their competitors who train at low altitude or at sea level.

Dagestani Fighters
The mountains of Dagestan

5. Wrestling – Dagestani Fighters

The most popular sport in Dagestan is wrestling, which is literally all that children do from a young age. 

Even the way they fight each other on the street is based on a lot of wrestling. 

Khabib wrestled a bear when he was a child, and that is not a rare thing in Dagestan.

The Russian team relies a lot on the Dagestanis to win medals in the Olympics.

Wrestling is one of the most influential combat sports in MMA. Wrestlers decide where the fight should take place, the ground or standing, depending on their strategy. This is the technical reason why Dagestani fighters dominated the game.