Khabib Nurmagomedov is opening up about the loss of his dad, and expressing conflicting views on retirement.
UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov will defend the gold against UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 254. This is Nurmagomedov’s first training camp since the death of his father and the fighter admits that Abdulmanap’s passing has affected the training camp.
“I’m sure everyone in this room lost someone,” Nurmagomedov said during a recent press conference (via Jed Meshew of MMA Fighting). “A friend, a neighbor, a cousin, a mother, a father, girlfriend. Everyone goes through loss, I understand that. But on the other hand it’s very difficult. Some people have strictly a father-son relationship, but my father was very close to me. We were like friends. He was my father and coach, we were always together. We were very close. Of course I’m sad. If I tell you with a straight face that it doesn’t affect my training, that’d be a lie. It does affect me, I think about him all the time. Maybe this pain will put me on another level and make me stronger. Any challenge either breaks you or makes you stronger. We’ll see what it does to me in time.”
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away after a bout with COVID-19. He was 57 years old at the time of his passing. There have been reports that Nurmagomedov could retire after earning two more wins in the UFC, but the lightweight champion says his thoughts on retirement have changed over time.
“As far as retirement, I’ve been having lots of different thoughts,” Nurmagomedov said. “Right now I’m thinking of my next fight. We’ll see what happens next. Right now I’m 31, I’ll be 32 in September. That’s a significant age. I’m no longer a rookie. Looking back at how much time I’ve invested in the sport, it’s fair to say I’m a veteran. I’ve been a professional fighter for 12 years, since 2008. I’ve been in the UFC more than eight years. If you look back, I’ve had an excellent career. Right now I’m motivated to come back, to fight, to keep busy, and I think the best place to do is where I am considered a professional. Then we’ll see what’s next. This whole year I’ve dedicated to training, my regimen - morning and evening training, diet, all of this helps distract me from everything that’s happening around me.”
UFC 254 takes place on Saturday, October 24 from a location to be announced with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on ESPN+.