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17th Apr 2016

Khabib Nurmagomedov, and his smothering top game, returned to action on Saturday night

'The Eagle' returns

Darragh Murphy

All credit to Darrell Horcher.

The UFC debutant could not have been presented with a more difficult opponent as he stepped in at nine days notice to take on the returning Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Nurmagomedov hadn’t fought in almost two years and was expected to meet Tony Ferguson on Saturday night before ‘El Cucuy’ pulled out of the fight.

Horcher, an unheralded lightweight, stepped up to the plate and agreed to meet Nurmagomedov at a catchweight of 160 lbs.

And, as expected, it was a routine night’s work for ‘The Eagle’ who stopped Horcher in the second round with his patented ground-and-pound.

Nurmagomedov almost finished the fight in the first round but Horcher was saved by the bell.

The undefeated Russian didn’t need much longer to get the job done, though, as he dragged his opponent to the mat with ease, trapped Horcher in a mounted crucifix and pounded away with left hands.

Horcher’s courage must be applauded as he continued to defend and fight back but once Nurmagomedov sank in both hooks from back mount, Horcher was left with nothing to do but cover up before referee James Warring stepped in, confirming Nurmagomedov’s 23rd professional win.

Nurmagomedov called out reigning UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, over whom he has a 2014 victory, in his post-fight interview.

For that rematch to come to fruition, dos Anjos will first have to get past Eddie Alvarez, the number-one ranked lightweight who the Brazilian has been paired up with for July 7 in the second defence of his 155 lb title.

Meanwhile, Tony Ferguson has taken to Twitter to campaign for the realisation of his fight with ‘The Eagle.’