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UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is starting to draw a massive fanbase. Leading up to his bout at UFC 209 against Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title, the fighter has the opportunity to become the sport’s first Muslim champ.

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According to UFC 209 Embedded, Nurmagomedov has made a name for himself on the Russian MMA scene for years, but now he’s ready to make his name known across America. He’s got support from Muslim fans from nations all over the world.

“This is not just about me. It is about everybody, it is for us,” he said. “On March 4, I want to become the first Muslim UFC champion.”

Every fighter has to start somewhere, and Nurmagomedov’s beginnings were, let’s just say, a little unorthodox. As a child growing up in the Republic of Dagestan, which is a federal subject of Russia, Nurmagomedov did something that would never fly here in the U.S. He wrestled with a bear. Yes, you read that correctly, and here’s the footage to prove it.