Ismail Naurdiev recalls his first fight at 16-years-old

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Most 16-year-olds are just figuring out who they are. They're defining their friend groups and deciding where it is they fit in. Ismail Naurdiev was no different until a call from his MMA coach changed his trajectory.

“I was just 16 years old and it was a Saturday,” Naurdiev recalled to The Top Turtle MMA Podcast. “I was just hanging out with my friends, and my old coach called me.”

It wasn’t common for his coach to be calling him during the day on a Saturday, especially given that his coach was heading over to a local MMA event for the day.

“He was like ‘hey do you want to fight today?” he recalled. Naurdiev had never considered fighting professionally, but without giving it all that much thought Naurdiev signed right up. “I was like ‘What? Today? Yeah, sure.”

So Naurdiev left his friends where they were standing so that he could rush home to collect his gear with little time before the fight.

“I went home, I got my stuff and went directly to the arena,” Naurdiev explained.

Even though he was just freshly 16, Naurdiev looked a bit older. However, he doesn’t think anyone in the arena would care even if they did find out he was a bit on the young side.

“They didn’t ask how old I was or nothing,” Naurdiev recalled. “I think they just needed a reserve because his opponent was injured, maybe they thought ‘okay, we’ll call a kid to get knocked out’ and I showed the opposite.”

He did indeed prove to be the exact opposite of an easy walkover. Instead, Naurdiev took home a unanimous decision victory on less than one day’s notice.

Of course, it is worth noting that “hanging out” with his friend was not exactly like what every other 16-year old is doing when they say that. When asked Naurdiev laughed and replied.

“Street fights.”

We’ll see if Naurdiev can take his experience into the cage with him this weekend as he fights Chance Rencountre on UFC 239.

(5:00 mark)

Author Daniel Vreeland is a co-founder of the Top Turtle Podcast, and a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu at New England Submission Fighting in Amherst, Massachusetts.