Khabib Nurmagomedov – 5 things to know about the undefeated Russian UFC champion who beat Conor McGregor and faces Tony Ferguson next

How much do you really know about Russian UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov? Photo: EPA-EFE

Khabib Nurmagomedov is both an amazing athlete and an amazing human being. His powerful presence pulverises the competition at any meet while his kind, generous nature has amazed rivals and fans alike. Following are five more fascinating facts you may want to know about the world-famous Russian MMA star.

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally met UFC lightweight title holder Khabib Nurmagomedov and his father, coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov in Makhachkala, Russia, in September 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE

He lost a lot of fights before becoming a champion

Believe it or not, Nurmagomedov wasn’t always a champion. He started training at the age of five, pursuing over half a dozen combat sports and entering numerous competitions at his father’s behest. Sadly, he continually lost until he cut down the number of martial arts he was engaged in at the age of 16. At that point, his career soared as he began winning competitions on a regular basis.

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He married his first love, the elusive Patimat Nurmagomedov

UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov jumps during a UFC bout against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Photo: AP

Not much is known about Patimat Nurmagomedov, except that she is a distant relative of her husband and that she was also his first love. The two sat together in school for only a year before Khabib’s family moved away, but it seems that was all it took. Nurmagomedov returned to his native village to propose to Patimat in 2013 and the two have been happily married since then. However, in spite of her famous spouse's fame, Patimat remains elusive. She isn’t on social media and only close friends and family members even know what she looks like.

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He almost quit to become a bouncer

Russian UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov nearly chucked in his dream to support his family by becoming a bouncer. Photo: AP Photo

Severe injuries forced Nurmagomedov to take a two-year break from MMA wrestling. At this point, he was so discouraged that he seriously considered taking on a job as a bouncer to continue providing for his family. However, his father would hear nothing of it. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov told his son that he needed to eat well, go to the gym and not give up. Khabib took his advice, went on to recover from his injuries and achieve world fame as an unbeaten MMA champ.

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He is the most popular athlete in Russia

Khabib Nurmagomedov beat ‘trash-talking’ Conor McGregor by submission at UFC 229. Photo: Reuters
Not surprisingly, Nurmagomedov is the most popular athlete in Russia. When he told his then-opponent Conor McGregor on Twitter that he had “144 million people” behind him, he meant it. Nurmagomedov can count on his countrymen to come out to cheer him on no matter where or when he fights. What’s more, he has more than 18 million fans following his Instagram account, nearly two million Facebook followers and close to 900,000 Twitter followers.

He talks while he fights

Khabib Nurmagomedov has the unusual – and intimidating – habit of talking while he fights. Photo: Reuters

As if simply fighting Nurmagomedov isn’t formidable enough, his opponents have to also put up with their opponent continually talking to them as he takes them down. Nurmagomedov told opponent Michael Johnson, “You have to give up. I need to fight for the title. You know this. I deserve it.” He rambled during his fight with Conor McGregor, and later told the Irishman that MMA is meant to be a sport built on respect, not a “trash-talking” one.

MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov spends his millions – on others

Khabib Nurmagomedov is a fascinating character. He comes from a close family and clearly loves and respects his wife. He shows respect for many of his adversaries, even donating to one of his opponents’ charitable foundations. He’s also a hard worker who puts a premium on self-discipline and perseverance, working for decades to win his place as an MMA champion. Given his stellar character and commitment to his sport, it’s not surprising that Khabib is respected and admired by people of all ages and walks of life.

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He met Russian President Vladimir Putin, almost quit MMA to become a bouncer – and no one has ever seen his wife Patimat Nurmagomedov