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Khabib Nurmagomedov: Everything You Need To Know about the UFC Star

LockerRoom Team
30 June 2021

Khabib Nurmagomedov is someone that needs no introduction. A legendary name in MMA, Khabib has an undefeated MMA record of 29-0 to his name and was one of the most dominant champions in the history of the UFC. Here is everything you need to know about him.

Early life in Dagestan and his family

Khabi Nurmagomedov was born in the village of Sildi in the Tsumadinsky District of the Dagestan ASSR, an autonomous republic within the Russian SFSR, Soviet Union, on September 20, 1988, to an Avar family.

Magomed, his older brother, and Amina, his younger sister, are his siblings. His father's family had relocated from Sildi to Kirovaul, where his father had turned the bottom floor of their two-story structure into a gym. Nurmagomedov was raised in a family with his siblings and cousins.

When he saw people training at the gym, he became interested in martial arts. Khabib's childhood training includes wrestling a bear at the age of nine.

Khabib and his father

He began wrestling at the age of eight, as many children in Dagestan do, under the supervision of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

Abdulmanap, a decorated athlete and a veteran of the Soviet Army, had wrestled since he was a child before joining the military and receiving judo and sambo instruction. Abdulmanap dedicated his life to mentoring Dagestan's children in the aim of providing an alternative to the region's prevalent Islamic radicalism.

His family relocated to Makhachkala, Dagestan's capital, in 2001, when he began wrestling at the age of 12 and judo at the age of 15. At the age of 17, he returned to his father's combat sambo training. The change from wrestling to judo, according to Nurmagomedov, was challenging, but his father wanted him to get used to competing in a gi jacket.

Abdulmanap was a senior coach for the Republic of Dagestan's combat sambo national team, instructing multiple competitors in the sport in Makhachkala, Russia. In his youth, Nurmagomedov was frequently involved in street battles before deciding to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.

Starting with MMA

In September 2008, Nurmagomedov made his professional MMA debut and won four fights in less than a month. He won the first Atrium Cup tournament on October 11 after defeating his three opponents at the Moscow event. He went undefeated for the next three years, defeating 11 of his 12 opponents.

One of them was future Bellator championship challenger Shahbulat Shamhalaev, who made his M-1 Global debut with a first-round armbar finish. In 2011, he fought for the ProFC company in seven fights, winning all of them by TKO or submission.

Nurmagomedov's 16–0 record in Russia's and Ukraine's regional circuits piqued the UFC's interest in signing him. Nurmagomedov's father later disclosed in an interview that they have 11 legal lawsuits questioning the authenticity of Nurmagomedov's UFC contract owing to a contract disagreement with ProFC. They came to a deal after losing six cases and won five, and Khabib was able to continue.

Khabib in the UFC

He inked a six-fight agreement with the UFC's lightweight division in late 2011.

Nurmagomedov made his UFC debut on January 20, 2012, at UFC on FX 1, defeating Kamal Shalorus by submission in the third round.

Khabib then won a unanimous decision over Gleison Tibau at UFC 148 on July 7, 2012. However, Tibau won the fight in 5 out of 6 media sources.

Nurmagomedov's next bout was against Thiago Tavares at UFC on FX 7 on January 19, 2013. In the opening round, he KO'd his opponent. Tavares tested positive for Drostanolone, an anabolic steroid, after the bout and earned a nine-month suspension. 

Nurmagomedov won a unanimous decision over Abel Trujillo at UFC 160 on May 25, 2013. The Russian weighed in at 158.5 pounds, which was more than the allowed maximum. He was granted two hours to trim down to the lightweight limit of 156 pounds, but he chose to give Trujillo a portion of his fight money instead, and the fight was fought at a catchweight.

Nurmagomedov set a new UFC record for most takedowns in a single fight with 21 successful takedowns out of 28 attempts during the fight. Nurmagomedov faced Pat Healy in his sixth UFC fight on September 21, 2013, at UFC 165. He was declared the winner by unanimous decision.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Nate Diaz possibility

Nurmagomedov issued a social media challenge to Gilbert Melendez in December, and the two are set to fight at UFC 170 on February 22, 2014. The fight, however, was called off for unknown reasons, and Melendez was replaced by Nate Diaz. However, Diaz declined the fight, and the fight was called off. Nurmagomedov expressed his dissatisfaction with the results.

On April 19, 2014, Nurmagomedov fought Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on Fox 11. He was declared the winner by unanimous decision.

The start of the Tony Ferguson story and Title Pursuit

On December 11, 2015, at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale, Nurmagomedov was set to meet Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov, however, withdrew from the fight in late October due to an injury and was replaced by Edson Barboza.

Ferguson's fight was postponed until April 16, 2016, at UFC on Fox 19. Ferguson, though, withdrew from the fight on April 5 due to a lung problem. At a catchweight of 160 pounds, Ferguson was replaced by promotional newcomer Darrell Horcher. Nurmagomedov won by TKO in the second round in a one-sided fight.

Nurmagomedov signed two contracts in September for a title opportunity against Eddie Alvarez, the current UFC Lightweight Champion, on either the UFC 205 or UFC 206 fight event, with Dana White announcing the fight for UFC 205. The UFC confirmed on September 26 that Alvarez would be defending his championship against Conor McGregor.

Nurmagomedov expressed his discontent on social media, calling Alvarez a "bullshit champ" for declining the fight and instead opting for a battle with McGregor, and accusing the UFC of being a "freak show," according to Nurmagomedov.

In the absence of a title shot, Nurmagomedov faced Michael Johnson at UFC 205 on November 12, 2016. Nurmagomedov dominated the fight and was overheard urging Dana White to grant him a title opportunity as he pummelling Johnson to a third-round submission.

Ferguson was supposed to fight for the interim Lightweight Championship for the third time at UFC 209 on March 4, 2017. Nurmagomedov, on the other hand, became ill as a result of a failed weight cut, and the fight was called off.

On December 30, 2017, at UFC 219, Nurmagomedov faced Edson Barboza. Nurmagomedov dominated all three rounds, routinely knocking Barboza down and using ground and pound to dominate the fight. He was declared the winner by a unanimous judgement. He also received his first Performance of the Night bonus as a result of this victory.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta and UFC title

Ferguson was set to fight for the fourth time at UFC 223, which was set to take place on April 7, 2018. However, it was reported on April 1, 2018, that Ferguson had damaged his knee and would be replaced by Max Holloway.

Holloway was replaced by Al Iaquinta on April 6 after the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) pronounced him unsuitable to participate owing to excessive weight cutting. The inclusion of Iaquinta in the fight was contentious:

Anthony Pettis, the UFC's first pick to replace Holloway, weighed in 0.2 pounds over the 155-pound championship limit and declined to re-weigh, while Paul Felder, the UFC's second choice, was denied by NYSAC since he was not in the UFC's rankings at the time of the bout.

Nurmagomedov was the only one who could win the title, as Iaquinta was also 0.2 pounds over the championship weight limit. Nurmagomedov dominated the bout and was declared the UFC Lightweight Champion by unanimous decision.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor rivalry

Nurmagomedov will defend his lightweight title against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 on October 6 in Las Vegas, the UFC announced on Friday, August 3, 2018. Nurmagomedov dominated the first two rounds of the bout, but fell to McGregor in the third round. Nurmagomedov had never lost a round in his UFC career before.

In the fourth round, he defeated McGregor by submission. Nurmagomedov scaled the Octagon after the fight and attempted to attack McGregor's teammate Dillon Danis, resulting in a melee between the two squads. The event garnered 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, the highest number ever for a mixed martial arts event.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier

Nurmagomedov inked a new multi-fight contract with the UFC in June 2019. On September 7, 2019, in the main event of UFC 242, Nurmagomedov made the second defence of his championship against interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier in his first fight under his new contract. In the third round, he submitted with a rear-naked choke submission.

Nurmagomedov received his second Performance of the Night bonus award after his victory, which unified both championships. After the bout, he and Poirier exchanged shirts as a sign of respect. Nurmagomedov stated in his post-fight interview that he will sell the jersey Poirier gave him and donate the earnings to Poirier's charity.

The shirt sold for $100,000, and UFC president Dana White matched the contribution.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje

Nurmagomedov was set to defend his championship against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18, 2020. Both fighters were on 12-bout win streaks in the UFC, and this was the fifth time a match between them had been scheduled. Nurmagomedov, however, was unable to leave Russia due to restrictions on air travel imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and was thus removed from the card.

Ferguson instead competed for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship against top contender Justin Gaethje at UFC 249, which was rescheduled for May 9th. Gaethje won the fight by TKO in the fifth round, halting Ferguson's winning run and gaining a rematch with Nurmagomedov for the undisputed championship.

On October 24, 2020, in the main event of UFC 254, Nurmagomedov faced Gaethje in a unification match. Nurmagomedov defended and re-unified the UFC Lightweight Championship through technical submission in the second round with a triangle choke.

Announcing his retirement

Nurmagomedov confirmed his retirement from mixed martial arts in his post-fight interview. He stated that he had promised his mother that he would not fight without his father, who had died.

“No way I’m going to come here without my father. It was first time after what happened with my father, when UFC called me about Justin, I talk with my mother three days. She doesn’t want me to go fight without my father but I promised her it was going to be my last fight. If I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here,” Khabib noted.

Despite attempts to persuade him to fight again, UFC president Dana White declared on March 19, 2021 that he had accepted Nurmagomedov's decision to retire and that the UFC Lightweight Championship had been formally relinquished.

Most searched questions about Khabib

In this section, we will take a look at some of the most searched questions about Khabib.

What happened to Khabib?

Khabib Nurmagomedov has retired from professional MMA after his win over Justin Gaethje. He noted that he had given a word to his mother that he will stop competing after the death of his father. Outside competing, Khabib has his own MMA promotion in Russia and is also active in coaching and cornering his cousins Usman Nurmagomedov and Umar Nurmagomedov.

Where is Khabib from?

Khabib Nurmagomedov was born in the village of Sildi in the Tsumadinsky District of the Dagestan ASSR, an autonomous republic within the Russian SFSR, Soviet Union, on September 20, 1988, to an Avar family.

How old is Khabib?

Khabib was born on 20 September 1988.

Why did Khabib retire?

During his post fight retirement speech, Khabib noted that he cannot continue fighting without his father in his corner. Khabib’s father had passed away a few months prior to his retirement due to complications that arose from COVID-19.

Who won Conor vs. Khabib?

The fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov was won by Khabib. Khabib won the showdown via a fourth-round submission and succesfully defended his UFC Lightweight title as well

What religion is Khabib?

Nurmagomedov is a Muslim who follows the Sunni faith. According to The Guardian, Nurmagomedov is the world's second-most popular Muslim athlete, after only Egyptian star Mohamed Salah.

Why does Khabib wear an Afro?

Nurmagomedov regularly wears a papakha hat after fights and at promotional events, as part of his Dagestani Avar culture.  He speaks Avar, Russian, English, Turkish, and Arabic, among other languages. Nurmagomedov is currently a third-year student at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics in Russia.

Khabib Nurmagomedov record

Khabib wrapped up his career with a professional record of 29-0. He had three successful UFC Lightweight title defenses and is the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight Champion. He had won three Performance of the Night Bonuses as well.

Khabib Nurmagomedov Wife

Nurmagomedov married Patimat in June 2013 and the couple has three children: a daughter born June 1, 2015, a son born December 30, 2017, and a son born December 22, 2019. Magomed, Khabib's great-grandfather, was the name given to the first son. Abubakar Nurmagomedov, a fellow UFC fighter, is one of Nurmagomedov's relatives.

What do you think of the story of Khabib? Let us know in the comment section of the article below.

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