How A Lifelong Obsession With Grappling Powered Magomed Abdulkadirov To A Historic World Title Shot

Magomed Abdulkadirov

Russian grappler Magomed Abdulkadirov will soon make his ONE Championship debut – and it’s the biggest opportunity of his lengthy competitive career.

On November 3 in U.S. primetime, the 32-year-old will square off with BJJ superstar Tye Ruotolo for the inaugural ONE Welterweight Submission Grappling World Title in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 16: Haggerty vs. Andrade on Prime Video,

Set to broadcast live to more than 190 countries worldwide, that showdown will be Abdulkadirov’s chance to turn himself into an overnight global superstar.

As he prepares for fight night, the soon-to-be World Title challenger spoke to about his long journey to the global stage of martial arts.

A ‘Rough Childhood’ In Dagestan

Abdulkadirov hails from the Dagestan region of Russia – a true breeding ground for elite combat sports athletes.

Looking back, he says fighting and martial arts were a natural, normal part of his upbringing:

“I grew up in Dagestan, in Makhachkala. Like many other boys around me, I had a rough childhood. In our city, you have to be able to stand up for yourself and have basic martial arts skills. I wouldn’t say that Makhachkala is a criminal city, but in my youth, there were many street brawls.”

The youngster began his formal grappling training in freestyle wrestling, creating the foundation for his game that today features world-class takedowns and suffocating pressure from the top position.

Before long, he supplemented his wrestling with jiu-jitsu training and quickly realized he had found his calling:

“It so happened that all my friends and other guys in my circle learned about jiu-jitsu and grappling almost at the same time, enrolled in a martial arts school, and put all their energy into the sport. And now, 10 to 15 years later, they have become black belts and achieved great results.”

A New Passion

Abdulkadirov was immediately hooked on grappling, obsessed with learning how to control and submit an opponent on the mat.

He was so fixated, in fact, that he once escaped his own home to make a training session. He vividly remembers the incident, which clearly created a great deal of worry in his poor mother:

“My mom still remembers the story of how, as a child, she locked me in the house while I was sleeping. I had made plans with my friends to go to a training session, and when I woke up in the afternoon, I realized I was locked in. We lived on the first floor at the time, and I decided to jump off the windowsill and go to the gym.

“When my mother came home, she didn’t find me and was very scared. She started looking for me, calling relatives, hospitals, and the police. Such was my enthusiasm for sports! After this incident, I was never locked in at home again.”

A Lifetime Of Dedication

Abdulkadirov’s obsession with grappling extended beyond his childhood.

As a young man, he attended and graduated from college, but he never once took a break from training. That one-track mind, he says, put him on the path to becoming the world-class submission specialist he is today:

“I am an ecologist by education, a graduate of DSU (Dagestan State University). But even during my studies, I was more focused on sports and often went to competitions. If it was not for sport, I would probably have gone into business.”

Given his commitment to jiu-jitsu and grappling, it’s no surprise that Abdulkadirov quickly established himself as one of Europe’s most talented ground fighters.

He claimed multiple UWW World Grappling Championships, and in 2015, he won the ADCC European Trials to earn his spot at the prestigious ADCC World Championships later that year.

Looking back on it all, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt wouldn’t have changed a thing about the way he tirelessly pursued excellence for many years:

“I do not regret that my life is inseparable from sports, as it is where my spirit was forged, and I also made a lot of friends here, whom I now consider my brothers.”

Motivated By Family

Throughout his competitive career, Abdulkadirov has found inspiration and motivation from those closest to him – starting with his father.

The Dagestani athlete says his dad was essential to his development as an elite professional grappler:

“My late father was my biggest supporter. He passed away in 2020. He watched all my fights, stayed up to date on what my plans, travels and goals were.

“His interest and support always motivated me. I fought and persevered because I wanted to prove that I was capable of winning at a high level. I think he was proud of me.”

Even though his father won’t be around to see his son debut in the world’s largest martial arts organization next month, Abdulkadirov now has a family of his own that inspires him to strive for greatness each and every day.

A proud husband and father of two, he added:

“Now my family members are my motivators. I try to teach my son to love sports, leading by my own example.”

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