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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov will not train in the U.S. for title fight with Justin Gaethje

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Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov

On Oct. 24, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his title against interim champion Justin Gaethje in a yet-to-be-determined location. And unlike his usual camps, this time, Khabib will not make the trip to California to train at American Kickboxing Academy. Nurmagomedov has held all his fight camps at AKA since 2012, but due to California’s continuing struggles with COVID-19, instead of Khabib going there, head coach Javier Mendez will go to Dagestan to prepare Khabib for his third title defense.

“We’ve got two choices [for the fight], right? Las Vegas or Fight Island,’” Mendez told ESPN. “I’m thinking Fight Island, but they haven’t said it yet. What I do know is that [COVID-19] is too high in California, and Khabib is not comfortable coming here to train. So I’m gonna go to Dagestan to train him and we’ll go from there. . . Where the fight is gonna be, 100 percent, I don’t know but I know this, I’m going to him. That I do know. I’m going to train him in Dagestan or wherever he chooses to go, but we’re not training in San Jose.”

It will be the first fight for Nurmagomedov since the passing of his father Abdulmanap last month due to complications from coronavirus. Khabib and his father were extremely close and his father’s passing had some speculate about Khabib’s future in MMA, when he would fight again and even if he would fight again. That speculation proved to be unfounded though as, according to Mendez, Khabib is dealing with his mourning through hard work and fulfilling his father’s wishes for him.

“I did speak to him for the first time about two weeks ago, and he’s still going through missing his father,” Mendez said. “Rightfully so. The way they were connected, his father was pretty much his everything. Having his father’s blessing gave him that power to go out and do what he needed to do. Everything his father wanted him to do, Khabib would go out and accomplish it. Now, he doesn’t have that. So, he’s gotta focus on the legacy his father wanted for him and live through that. Do something great for the legacy of your father.”

Khabib and his father’s legacy has been the topic of much conversation lately as Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz hinted at that Khabib will only fight twice more, per his father’s wishes. UFC President Dana White suggested that Khabib’s long-desired fight with Georges St-Pierre could be a good final fight for the lightweight champion. And though Mendez has not spoken with him about a possible retirement, he confirmed that Adbulmanap always wanted his son to exit the sport at 30-0, and he could see that scenario being a fitting end to Khabib’s career.

“It was discussed on numerous occasions — 30-0,” Mendez said. “And GSP was definitely the legacy fight. If they can complete that, I could see 30-0 and he’s done. I can definitely see that. That conversation was brought up numerous times while I was with them.”


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Thanks for reading and see y’all on Monday.



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