‘People keep sharing this clip, but I feel bad for my opponent’: Khaybulaev on his flying knee KO

Dagestani MMA fighter Movlid Khaybulaev made headlines at the end of May, when he scored a KO with a flying knee shot just 10 seconds into his Professional Fighting League (PFL) debut. RT Sport spoke to ‘Killer.’

On May 23 Khaybulaev, who had a perfect MMA record of 12-0, was making his debut on US soil as part of the PFL card in Uniondale, New York.

The fight outcome exceeded all expectations, when the 28-year-old Russian knocked out his opponent Damon Jackson with the very first shot, recording the quickest finish in PFL’s short history and making a strong case for knockout of the year.

But in contrast to his devastating fighting style and aggressive moniker, ‘Killer’ Khaybulaev turned out to be a humble and polite young man, as he takled to RT Sport over phone.

Congratulations on the great win. Has it changed your life in any way? Do people recognize you more now? 

Yes, of course, I was pleasantly surprised. All my friends and people around me congratulated me with the victory. I was met by journalists upon arrival, I felt like they are making a star of me, I think it’s a bit too early for that. Of course, I received a lot of messages on social media, and gained new followers. But I am a humble person, and I am not used to it, so it’s a bit hard for me.

Was that knee shot something you were aiming for, with this particular opponent, or did it just come naturally?

I am always trying to study my opponents, to find all the possible holes in their game, so I can take advantage of it. Whether it be a takedown or a sudden strike. I knew that he had a very strong right cross, and when he prepares it, he bends down a little. So I actually had this knee shot in mind, I just didn’t expect it to be that effective.

© Professional Fighting League

Fans and media praised your sportsmanship, because after your opponent went down you didn’t rush to give him any additional damage, and made sure that the referee stepped in to stop the fight.

I realized that I caught him with that shot the moment I landed it, and then I just looked at him falling down. So I knew that there was no need for any further damage.

Are you always that calm when you win?

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I try to control my emotions, because my opponent was also preparing for this fight, he had a training camp, went through the weight cut. It’s all very hard work so you have to respect it. People are sharing the video of our fight here and there, but I feel bad for my opponent, it must be hard for him when he stumbles upon this clip again and again. I didn’t post it on my social media, I just wished him well and a speedy recovery. 

© Professional Fighting League

You have a pretty impressive MMA record of 13-0, what sports did you do before switching to mixed martial arts?

My base is freestyle wrestling, which I’ve been doing for more than 10 years in my native Dagestan, so my wrestling base is pretty solid. And then when I went to college, I started to train Combat Sambo under the guidance of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov (father and coach of UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov).

At what point did you receive your nickname ‘The Killer’?

To be honest I don’t even know where it came from. I guess one of the promotions decided to announce me like that and it stuck. People always ask me about it, and I don’t even know what to say.

What are your goals in MMA?

Everyone wants to be the best, but it’s important to be a decent person first of all. And set a good example to others. Like a lot of my fellow Dagestani fighters do, for example Khabib Nurmagomedov. We train together, and he sets a big example for me.

Talking about other fighters from Dagestan, there are many of them taking part in the PFL Grand Prix, so if you and they progress in the tournament, you might end up fighting each other. Does it bother you? Because a lot of fighters from Dagestan and Russia in general, say they don’t want to compete against each other.

It’s just a sport, there is nothing personal. We are all professionals. But in my weight class (featherweight) there is only one of my compatriots (Gadzhi Rabadanov), so it’s not very likely that we will face each other in the early stages of the tournament.

But in general I like PFL a lot, everything is organized to the highest standard, and the whole points system is very interesting for the fans and for the fighters. I am really glad to be part of it.

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