Last month, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father, Abdulmanap, died from complications due to COVID-19. It was a shocking blow to the UFC lightweight champion and MMA in general. Following his passing, questions abounded about what the future would have in store for Khabib and whether he would defend his title this year. Those questions were answered when Nurmagomedov agreed to defend his title against interim champion Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October. But though Khabib is defending his title soon, don’t think that means he’s not still mourning his father.
In a recent press conference (courtesy of RT Sport), Nurmagomedov addressed the passing of his father and his upcoming title fight, admitting that the loss is affecting his training but saying that he hopes it will come out stronger.
“I’m sure everyone in this room lost someone,” Khabib said. “A friend, a neighbor, a cousin, a mother, a father, girlfriend. Everyone goes through loss, I understand that. But on the other hand it’s very difficult. Some people have strictly a father-son relationship, but my father was very close to me. We were like friends. He was my father and coach, we were always together. We were very close. Of course I’m sad. If I tell you with a straight face that it doesn’t affect my training, that’d be a lie. It does affect me, I think about him all the time. Maybe this pain will put me on another level and make me stronger. Any challenge either breaks you or makes you stronger. We’ll see what it does to me in time.”
Aside from being his father, Abdulmanap was also the head coach for Khabib and stewarded his son’s rise to undefeated UFC champion. Abdulmanap had clear goals for his son which included retiring from the sport once Khabib reached 30-0. The lightweight champion is currently 28-0 and recently his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, suggested that following UFC 254, Khabib’s next fight would be his last. And while Khabib did not confirm that to be true, the lightweight champion does seem to suggest that he doesn’t have the much longer left in his career.
“As far as retirement, I’ve been having lots of different thoughts,” Khabib said. “Right now I’m thinking of my next fight. We’ll see what happens next. Right now I’m 31, I’ll be 32 in September. That’s a significant age. I’m no longer a rookie. Looking back at how much time I’ve invested in the sport, it’s fair to say I’m a veteran. I’ve been a professional fighter for 12 years, since 2008. I’ve been in the UFC more than eight years. If you look back, I’ve had an excellent career.
“Right now I’m motivated to come back, to fight, to keep busy, and I think the best place to do is where I am considered a professional. Then we’ll see what’s next. This whole year I’ve dedicated to training, my regimen - morning and evening training, diet, all of this helps distract me from everything that’s happening around me.”
Soon, Nurmagomedov will start his training camp for Justin Gaethje in earnest, with American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez flying to Russia to prepare him, instead of Khabib spending his fight camp in San Jose as he has since 2012. And though this will be the first fight Khabib ever goes into without his father, the lightweight champion says he knows what his father would tell him to do.
“He always had pretty firm advice - short, firm advice,” Khabib said. “He’d tell me to stay focused. He’d say, ‘You decided to fight, you have to get ready.’ There’s no half measures. If you’re fighting, get ready.”
UFC 254 will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24 at a still to be determined location.
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Francis, who ostensibly is set for a title shot now, knows what’s up.
Conor Cody Peter Henry your welcome— Chito Vera (@chitoveraUFC) August 16, 2020
Taking the loss well.
Cejudo enjoying it.
Sooner or later they all bend the knee. pic.twitter.com/yR5x1OuMnW— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) August 16, 2020
JDS is classy as hell.
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☞ Not my night! I'm not happy with my performance, it was very far from my best. No excuses! I will be back better and stronger! Thank you for my team for the love and support! Congratulations to @danielpitpineda you were the better man tonight! Respect give it to get it! ○●○● ☞ Não foi a minha noite! Nada feliz com minha performance, muito longe do meu melhor. Sem desculpas! Muito obrigado à todos pelas palavras de apoio! Parabéns pro Daniel Pineda ele foi o melhor hoje! Respeito dê para receber! #TheBlaze #TatamiFightwear #Tatami #PBECatering #BurnsBJJ #SanfordMMA #CombatClub #UFC #BurnsBrothers #TeamBurns
So it appears Reyes isn’t getting an immediate rematch.
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