Why Dagestanis (And Chechens) Are So Good at Combat Sports

Why Dagestanis (And Chechens) Are So Good at Combat Sports

With Islam Makhachev defending his UFC Lightweight Championship against Alex Volkanovski at UFC 284, the dominance of fighters from the Caucasus region continues. Known for their cold temperatures and callous nature, the Caucasus Mountains separate Eastern Europe from Western Asia. This cold and high-elevation region is home to two famous Russian republics, Dagestan and Chechnya. 


Usually, these two republics are paired together because they share a similar history and culture. The Chechens of Chechnya and the Avars of Dagestan are known as warrior people that are primarily Muslim. Both regions are now part of the Russian Republic, but they have tried to rebel against Russia multiple times, resulting in numerous wars. Although most of these wars were Chechnya against Russia, there was also the war of Dagestan in which Chechnya tried to invade Dagestan, which eventually failed. Because of the violence in this region, many fathers enrolled their children in wrestling programs to shield them from it. In addition, a significant emphasis on wrestling was placed in the Soviet Union during the 70s, which is why these programs are highly prestigious.

Khabib as a coach and Belal Muhammad

Moreover, the Russians developed a fighting system called Combat Sambo, which combined wrestling, judo, and striking. This martial art was practiced by legends of mixed martial arts such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Fedor Emelianenko, and Islam Makhachev, who is the 2016 World Sambo champion. As you can see, wrestling is embedded in the culture of Russian fighters, especially in the Caucasus region (Chechnya and Dagestan). Khabib Nurmagomedov even said that his father would always make him wrestle his friends when he was a young boy and that he made training a top priority.

Nonetheless, one thing that undoubtedly put Dagestan fighters on the map is the rise of Khabib Nurmagomedov, who became one of the best fighters in history and retired undefeated. When you have a poor region like this, and one person manages to get out and gain worldwide recognition, many young boys become inspired and strive to reach the same heights


When you combine all of these, you have a breeding ground for top fighters. The violent history in this part of the world and the well-developed wrestling culture are ideal for young athletes striving to become fighters. On top of that, the path is clear when you have a figure such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is a prime example of how hard work can help you succeed. Finally, last but not least, discipline plays a huge part in the success of these fighters. Due to their religion, Islam, many Muslim fighters remain disciplined throughout their careers and avoid drinking, drugs, and other harmful activities. 

BJJ white belts Khabib & Khamzat

Khabib and Khamzat

I believe that one saying can easily describe the success of these fighters: “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.”

My name is Milos; I am the head coach of Fort Jiu-Jitsu! I hope you liked the article, and thank you for reading it!

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