Usman Nurmagomedov - cousin of MMA icon Khabib - became Bellator lightweight champion
Usman Nurmagomedov etched another chapter into his family's proud fighting history after dominating Patricky 'Pitbull' Freire to win the Bellator lightweight title in Chicago on Friday night.
Nurmagomedov, 24, left little room for doubt in a lopsided co-main event contest which he was awarded 50-45, 50-44 and 50-44 on the scorecards against the Brazilian reigning champion.
Nurmagomedov was without cousin Khabib in his corner at the Wintrust Arena after reported visa delays for the UFC icon, but nonetheless did his team proud with a performance which arguably had everything except for the finish that some may have felt his dominance deserved.
Nurmagomedov took control of the contest early on against the veteran champion, showcasing the kicking skills that set him apart from the grappling-heavy style so often associated with Khabib.
There was also dominance on the ground, though, as Nurmagomedov landed a takedown and finished the second round with a heavy ground-and-pound which left Freire needing the bell for some respite.
The fight plateaued somewhat, leaving sections of the Chicago crowd restless, before Freire came out firing in a belated bid to keep hold of his title in the final round.
But Nurmagomedov never looked in serious danger, stifling the threat before exerting control again and running away with the win on the scorecards.
So widely known as a hotbed for MMA talent following success for Khabib and Islam Makhachev in the UFC lightweight ranks, Dagestan now has its first Bellator MMA champion in the form of Usman Nurmagomedov.
"For me, this is so important," said Nurmagomedov, as quoted by MMA Junkie.
"I'm so happy. A lot of emotions, you know? I just want to say thank you. Like, first of all, Alhamdulillah after.
"A lot of guys, everybody from around the world send me messages to support me. Thank you."
He was embraced by members of the team including American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) coach Javier Mendez after the bout, while Khabib shared a video call with his relative.
'The Eagle' also issued a social media message proclaiming "you deserve it brother. Another victory, another history."
Nurmagomedov improved his unbeaten record to 16-0. The beaten Freire, 36, slumped to an 11th defeat of his 35-fight career, losing the title he won against Peter Queally in Dublin last November.