Thiago TavaresUFC on FX 7: January 19, 2013 Ibirapuera Arena in São Paulo, Brazil UFC Lightweight Contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (-200) Profile: The undefeated Russian combat master Khabib Nurmagomedov (18-0) is considered a master in Combat Sambo, (translated as self-defense without weapons), holds a black belt in judo and also trains stand up with the American Kickboxing Academy. The 24-year-old has quickly become one of the most feared young fighters and signed on with the UFC after winning his first 16 bouts on his home soil.  Nurmagomedov joined a stacked lightweight division with his debut against Khamal Shalorus at UFC on FX 1 and dominated him en route to a third-round submission victory via rear-naked choke. He followed that up with a unanimous decision win against Gleison Tibau at UFC 148. UFC Lightweight Contender Thiago Tavares (+160) Profile: Thiago Tavares (17-4-1) has had an exciting UFC career spanning the last half-decade. In that time, he’s gone 7-4-1 with three Fight of the Night awards and one Submission of the Night check. He’s a creative Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist who has been on the outside looking in as far as the title picture goes for years, but that’s what happens when you fight in an extremely deep and deadly division. He’s currently on a 4-1-1 run since 2009, and a few more impressive wins could make for some interesting matchups involving him in the lightweight division. Opening UFC on FX 7 Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Nurmagomedov a solid -200 favorite (bet $200 to win $100) while Tavares opened as a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160) according to the MMA odds. Tavares is one of the few Brazilians not favored on the main and preliminary cards for UFC on FX 7, and he will be fighting for the first time in more than a year. Nurmagomedov does not have anywhere near the same amount of experience in the UFC, but he is one of the top Russian fighters signed by the organization and wants to make a lasting impression as one of the best lightweights in the world. He has looked good so far in his first two UFC fights, although many thought his win over Tibau was much closer than the judges scored it. Tavares should be another tough opponent and is still relatively young at 28 years old. He may also be extra motivated fighting in his home country and has the potential to pull off the upset and hand Nurmagomedov his first loss with a sneaky submission or by grinding out a decision victory.


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