While Conor McGregor prepares for his trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier, Khabib Nurmagomedov leaves behind a legacy that is truly impossible to replicate. The Russian recently retired with a perfect 29-0 record and as the undisputed and undefeated UFC lightweight champion. He was also the #1 ranked men's pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC before the retirement was made official.
Nurmagomedov's success didn't come easy though. He had to fight his way to the very pinnacle of success in the UFC. He entered the promotion as a highly rated prospect and slowly but surely transformed into the most dominant lightweight in UFC history. Nurmagomedov shot to worldwide fame after his massive title defense against Conor McGregor at UFC 229, the biggest pay-per-view in UFC history.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is now the most-followed Russian on Instagram, with more than 27 million followers as of this year. Following his retirement from MMA, Nurmagomedov became a promoter by purchasing the Gorilla Fighting Championship, a Russian MMA promotion, for $1 million. Nurmagomedov later renamed it the Eagle Fighting Championship.
There's no doubt about the fact that Nurmagomedov retired as a prizefighter. He is also one of the richest mixed martial artists in the world. The Eagle was among the biggest pay-per-view draws in the UFC when he bowed out. Despite his decision to retire, Dana White tried his best to convince Nurmagomedov to continue fighting.
However, according to his former rival Conor McGregor, much of Nurmagomedov's recent financial success should be credited to the Irishman.
In a farewell tweet following the official announcement of Nurmagomedov's retirement, Conor McGregor reminded the Russian that it was he who changed Khabib's life forever. McGregor hinted at the massive amount of money Nurmagomedov made when they fought and how the matchup changed Khabib's life for the better:
“Happy retirement kid, smell ya later. Never forget who came in the game and made ye. Straight from my big Irish balls. Remember folks, if you hate cutting weight so much, all you have to do is move up a division. God bless."
There's no debating the fact that Conor McGregor is the biggest money fight in the UFC. A fight against him can turn the lives of fighters around for the better. They get better pay-cheques, increased fan-following, and participate in monumentous pay-per-views.
In this article, we look at how Conor McGregor contributed towards making Khabib Nurmagomedov the star that he is today. Here are five reasons why Conor McGregor made Khabib Nurmagomedov the star that he is today.
5) Conor McGregor's pay-per-view monstrosity made Khabib Nurmagomedov a part of UFC history
Conor McGregor is the king of PPV buys. All of the top five PPVs in UFC history have been headlined by The Notorious One. This tells you a lot about the man's drawing power. When Nurmagomedov and McGregor squared off at UFC 229, the bad blood between the fighters took the event to a whole new level.
Millions of fans across the globe were eagerly waiting to see two of the best fighters of this generation throw down inside the octagon. UFC 229 generated a total of 2.4 million PPV buys, the highest in UFC history by a mile. That record won't be broken anytime soon.
This was the first and last time Nurmagomedov headlined a PPV that garnered over a million buys. That in itself explains the role of Conor McGregor in propelling Nurmagomedov to superstardom.
4) The origin of 'Send me location'
Most fight fans are aware of Conor McGregor's notorious attack on the bus in which Nurmagomedov traveled ahead of his title fight against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223.
McGregor and his teammates flew into Brooklyn, New York on his private jet and entered Barclays Center, where the event was supposed to take place. He then launched a dolly into the bus Khabib was in and shattered the windows, injuring a couple of fighters as well.
While the promotion condemned the actions of its poster boy and Conor McGregor was later arrested, Nurmagomedov's statement in response to the incident went viral:
"I understand these guys wanna find me. Of course, I tried to go out (of the bus). People talk about I'm scared and I don't go out. You can ask him (Al Iaquinta) or other guys.. But if you wanna find me, just send me location, send me location."
These three words have become a rage ever since and are frequently associated with the undefeated Dagestani fighter. Even Nurmagomedov realized the cult status his quote had achieved and recently repeated it when referring to a meeting with UFC president Dana White.
3) Conor McGregor played the perfect antagonist
Conor McGregor's antics ahead of the fight against Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 made him an outright antagonist from the get-go. From the attack on the bus to the personal attacks on Nurmagomedov's family and religion, McGregor left no-stone-unturned trying to get under his opponent's skin.
McGregor's mind games and relentless trash talk made him look villainous in the lead-up to the fight. Nurmagomedov's quiet demeanor ahead of the fight, followed by an enigmatic performance in the octagon, earned him a lot of admirers for being the 'good guy'.
Although McGregor's countless fans across the globe were cheering him on when he entered the octagon, his distasteful jibes regarding Khabib's country and religion drew the ire of Russian fans. That's when they fell in love with the idea of what Khabib stands for - respect.
Nurmagomedov's clean image and McGregor's polarizing antics contributed greatly towards making the Russian popular among the fans.
2) The fame that accompanies a scalp of Conor McGregor
Everyone in the UFC seems to want a piece of Conor McGregor. A fight against the Irishman is like winning a lottery ticket, imagine what getting a win against him would mean.
Let's get this straight, it is not very often that McGregor is beaten inside the octagon. The Irishman is 22-5 in his career and has 20 finishes to his name. He's beaten some of the finest fighters out there and became the first ever champ-champ in UFC history.
The likes of Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier gained massive followings and improved their net-worths after beating McGregor. Nurmagomedov beating him in the manner that he did almost broke the mystical aura surrounding McGregor. The Russian made him look human, he'd promised to make McGregor humble and he did.
In a matter of moments, the win against McGregor propelled Nurmagomedov into the dizzying heights of success and fame. He became the most sought after fighter in the lightweight division thereafter.
1) The money fight
Conor McGregor is the money fight in the UFC. A fight against him usually earns fighters the biggest payday of their careers. The same was the case with Khabib Nurmagomedov. According to TalkSport, Nurmagomedov earned his first million dollar payday when he fought McGregor at UFC 229.
The win worked wonders for Nurmagomedov as he shot to fame, earning million dollar paydays in all of his fights since. Conor McGregor is the biggest money-spinner in the world of combat sports. Beating him changed Nurmagomedov's life forever.