What Won’t Khabib Nurmagomedov Be Doing?
Due to concerns regarding COVID-19, UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagoedov will be altering his game plan before facing Justin Gaethje later this year.
ESPN was the first to report that Nurmagomedov (28-0) will not be traveling to the United States to train for his fight on October 24 at UFC 254. Nurmagomedov, who normally trains out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, will most likely be training in Dagestan, Russia. This is due to problems with traveling and COVID-19 rapidly spreading in California and the United States in general.
Staying put may end up helping Khabib when determining a location for UFC 254. Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi have been options for fight nights over the past few months.
“We’ve got two choices [for the fight], right? Las Vegas or Fight Island [Yas Island, Abu Dhabi],'” coach Javier Mendez stated to ESPN. “I’m thinking Fight Island, but they haven’t said it yet. What I do know is that [COVID-19] is too high in California, and Khabib is not comfortable coming here to train.”
Khabib made his UFC debut in 2012. In his fourth fight, he set the record for most takedowns in a single fight with 21. The 31-year-old won the UFC Lightweight Title against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in 2018 after Tony Ferguson backed out. He then defended the belt against Conor McGregor, submitting him at UFC 229. “The Eagle’s” last fight was at UFC 242 in September, beating Dustin Poirier to unify the UFC Lightweight Title.
His fight with Gaethje will be the first since losing his father Abdulmanap due to complications regarding COVID-19. It was a major blow for Khabib, who had his father by his side during major fights of his over the last few years. Before that, he returned to Russia to quarantine as COVID-19 was just starting to affect America. Mendez went on to say that Khabib is still processing his loss and all that comes with it.
“I did speak to him for the first time two weeks ago, and he’s still going through missing his father,” Mendez went on to say. “Rightfully so. The way they were connected, his father was pretty much his everything. Having his father’s blessing gave him that power to go out and do what he needed to do. Everything his father wanted him to do, Khabib would go out and accomplish it. Now, he doesn’t have that. So, he’s gotta focus on the legacy his father wanted for him.”
One of Abdulmanap’s goals for Khabib was to retire at 30-0. If Khabib beat Gaethje, a plan could be in place for him to face off against Georges St-Pierre.