Khabib Nurmagomedov is widely regarded as one of the greatest to have ever competed in the sport of MMA. The fighter who put Dagestan on the map has spent a lifetime training in various combat arts, including freestyle wrestling, judo, Greco-Roman wrestling, sambo, hand-to-hand combat, pankration, grappling and jiu-jitsu.
Contrary to his record as a professional mixed martial artist, Khabib Nurmagomedov was mostly met with defeat as a child. According to Khabib's father and coach, Abulmanap Nurmagomedov, 'The Eagle' had his first taste of success at the age of 16. Since then Khabib Nurmagomedov has risen as one of the most dominant figures in MMA.
Following his father's death, Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from the sport at UFC 254 after successfully defending his title against Justin Gaethje. The No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world walked away with a perfect 29-0 professional record and remains retired for now.
While Khabib Nurmagomedov might go down as one of the most feared fighters in history, he will also be remembered for his witty interviews, between-the-fight talks and, of course, the banter with teammate and friend Daniel Cormier. While we wait in anticipation for Khabib's return, let's take a look at five times when Khabib Nurmagomedov proved that he is more than a fighter.
5. When Khabib Nurmagomedov warned America about sanctions on Russia
Back in 2014, the US imposed sanctions on Russia for backing separatists in eastern Ukraine and annexing Crimea. This, however, did not sit well with Khabib, who openly stood up for his country. In an interview with Russian MMA site ValeTudo.ru, Khabib joked about wanting to beat up American fighters because of the sanctions. Warning the US about sanctioning Russia, Khabib said:
"To go to America and fight Russian fighters is not so nice. Because there are so many foreign fighters who can and must be beaten. Especially the Americans.I am now recovering from injury. In two months I will start to train 100%, both wrestling and everything else. Pettis will defend his title on December 6, and maybe after the bout I will be declared the next challenger. If I am not declared, I will not be offended. I will continue to train and beat all Americans. For their sanctions."
4. When Khabib Nurmagomedov almost started to work as a bouncer to support his family
Back-to-back injuries had forced Khabib Nurmagomedov to take a two-year break from fighting. After suffering torn cruciate ligaments in his knee, Khabib broke a rib in the run-up to a scheduled fight with Tony Ferguson. It was then that Khabib Nurmagomedod seriously considered taking up a job as a bouncer to continue providing for his family. Khabib's father, Abulmanap Nurmagomedov, persuaded him against the move and insisted that he continue to train. Khabib's father said in an interview:
“Your job is to eat well and go to the gym. I told [Khabib] at the time that it took us such a long time to get this far, so he should not give up so quickly. He returned to the mat and started to sweat his guts out. And he never stopped."
3. When Khabib Nurmagomedov asked Michael Johnson to submit out of concern
We all remember the famous rapport from UFC 205 when Khabib calmly reasoned with Michael Johnson while submitting him with a Kimura. After securing a dominant position on the ground, Khabib told Michael Jordan:
“You have to give up. I need to fight for the title. You know this. I deserve it,"
In a later edition of MMA Hour, Khabib explained his purpose in asking Johnson to submit. Revealing his gentle nature, Khabib said:
“I talk with Michael Johnson because I respect Michael Johnson and I don’t want to hurt him,” Nurmagomedov said. “I talk about 'hey you have to give up, and I don’t want to smash your face,' and when [he went for the Kimura], I go very slowly, I’m very careful because I don’t want to break his arm like Nogeuira-Mir, and I go very slowly and he taps.”
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov has an economics degree and knows multiple languages
Since his rise as an MMA superstar, Khabib Nurmagomedov has developed other aspects of himself as well. Khabib holds a secondary vocational degree from the Makhachkala Finance and Economics College. As of 2019, Khabib was enrolled as a fourth-year student at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.
Apart from this, Khabib Nurmagomedov is fluent in five languages. Kumyk (he has Kumyk relatives), his native Avar, Russian, Turkish and English. As stated by Abulmanap Nurmagomedov, Khabib can also read Arabic, but is too shy to speak it.
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov married his first love
Khabib Nurmagomedov married his first love, Patimat Nurmagomedov. According to reports, the two sat together in school for a year and that was all it took. Khabib would return to his native village of Sidli to propose to Patimat Nurmagomedova in 2013 and the two have been happily married since. Not much is known about Patimat apart from the fact that she is a distant relative of Khabib.