Nurmagomedov successfully defended the UFC Lightweight Championship with a second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje, and then proceeded to call it a career during the post-fight interview.
The 32-year-old retired with an unblemished 29-0 professional MMA record which included three successful UFC title defenses.
Mendez, who has been Khabib Nurmagomedov’s coach at AKA since 2012, revealed that the two shared a special moment after “The Eagle” announced his retirement.
“The hug, and then he said ‘I love you, coach. Thank you for everything.’,” Mendez shared on an episode of Submission Radio.
When asked what the gesture meant, Mendez began to tear up.
“Well it has me tearing up, so obviously, it means everything,” he said, with a crack in his voice.
Mendez also shared his first impressions of Khabib Nurmagomedov. He said that even back in 2012, he already knew that the Russian was destined for greatness.
“I knew he was gonna be a champion, but I didn’t know he would be with me, to be honest with you, because how can you know that when, in 2012, he lives in Russia, it was very difficult for him to live in San Jose.”
“Super, super expensive, it wasn’t like he was rich or anything, he was barely struggling to make it by,” Mendez added.
More than anything, however, Mendez noted that Khabib Nurmagomedov was loyal.
“He was loyal, loyalty was number one with him, and he stayed with me because of love and loyalty and the great training that he got, and the company and the friendship he got. You can it between him and Daniel Cormier."
"The whole team loves him, but him and Daniel have a special bond, as you can tell from watching, you can see there’s a special bond between him and Daniel. They’re brothers for life."
Mendez also shared a heart-warming tribute to his prized lightweight pupil on Instagram:
Khabib Nurmagomedov to become coach at AKA?
While Khabib Nurmagomedov may have put a stamp on his MMA career, it’s unlikely that he steps away from the sport completely. In fact, he could already have a gig as a coach at his home team, the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California.
In a video posted by AKA coach Javier Mendez on Instagram, Khabib Nurmagomedov hinted that he would be coming back to help the next generation of AKA stars.
“We’ll help all the young generation guys. Coach. We gonna come back on the top, very soon,” Nurmagomedov said.
“Are you gonna come back as the coach with me? Is that what you’re gonna do?” Mendez responded.
“I’m gonna help you, like I always. How many years you, Coach?” Khabib asked.
“Many years, and many more years to go!” Mendez emphatically concluded.
If the light-hearted exchange is any indication of things to come at AKA, then it should be exciting times over in San Jose.
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