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04th Aug 2018

Everything you need to know about Conor McGregor’s next opponent, Khabib Nurmagomedov

Believe it or not, at one stage they were actually fond of each other

Ben Kiely

Conor McGregor will fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight championship at UFC 229.

It’s official, Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov will finally get to settle their beef inside the Octagon. The lightweight title fight will headline UFC 229 on October 6 in Las Vegas.

Hardcore MMA fans will be well-versed on both men. However, given the nature of this fight, it’s going to attract a sizeable casual combat sports audience. If you don’t know much about Nurmagomedov or you just want to bone up on your knowledge of him, we’ve got you covered.

The basics

Nickname: “The Eagle”.

Birthplace: Makhachkala, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union.

Tale of the Tape

Age: 29, D.O.B. 20/9/1988.

Height: 5’10”.

Reach: 70 in.

Leg reach: 40 in.

The Dojo

Gym: American Kickboxing Academy and Gadzhi Makhachev Freestyle Wrestling Club.

Notable training partners: UFC Heavyweight and Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, former UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, former WSOF and PFL welterweight champion Jon Fitch, former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson, former Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary.


Record: 26-0 MMA, 10-0 UFC.

Eight of his wins have come by knockout or TKO, he has eight submission victories and has gone to the judges’ scorecards 10 times.

Achievements: Undisputed UFC lightweight champion (one time), One UFC Performance bonus, 2016 International Fighter of the Year at the World MMA Awards.

2009 World Combat Sambo Championships (-74 kg) Gold Medalist, 2010 World Cup in Combat Sambo (-82 kg) Silver Medalist, 2010 World Combat Sambo Championships (-82 kg) Gold Medalist, 2009 Russian Combat Sambo Championships (-74 kg) Gold Medalist.

2012 Men’s No-Gi Expert Welterweight Champion and 2012 ADCC Rules No-Gi Expert Welterweight Champion at NAGA World Championships, European Champion of Army Hand-to-Hand Combat, European Pankration Champion.

Conor McGregor

Records: Most takedowns in a single UFC fight. He nailed 21 takedowns of 27 attempts in three rounds against Abel Trujillo.

Third most takedowns in UFC history – 43.

Highest UFC win percentage (minimum of 10 bouts) – 100%

Biggest win: Edson Barboza at UFC 219. On paper, it was a nightmare match-up for Nurmagomedov. Barboza is one of the most feared strikers in the division, has a reach advantage and incredible takedown defence.

In the end, though, Nurmagomedov made it look like child’s play. He mauled his way past the lionhearted Brazillian to score a dominant 30-25, 30-25, 30-24 victory. This was the one that earned him his title shot and for our money, it was his most impressive performance to date.

Other notable wins: Rafael dos Anjos, Michael Johnson, Gleison Tibau, Abel Trujillo, Pat Healy.

Last defeat: N/A.


Seeing him fight is a blessing: Those pesky injuries have limited the number of times Nurmagomedov has appeared inside the Octagon. In 2014, there was an audible groan in the 3Arena’s media room when Dana White informed media that he blew out his knee 20 minutes after signing a bout agreement to fight Donald Cerrone.

He fought once last year, twice in 2016, didn’t feature at all in 2015 and once in 2014. So every time we actually get to see him fight really is a gift. Savour it.

Iwrestledabearonce: No, he’s not a fan of the metal band, to the best of our knowledge. When he was a child, Nurmagomedov befriended a bear cub in his native Dagestan… no really. The subsequent footage of him wrestling the animal has gone down in MMA folklore.

Religion: Usually, a sport’s star’s religious beliefs are entirely irrelevant, but not in Nurmagomedov’s case. As a devout Sunni Muslim, he observes Ramadan. This means that he is unable to take fights during mid-summer because of the fasting.

Trash talk: Nurmagomedov has been known to talk smack between rounds and even mid-fight. While mauling Michael Johnson at UFC 205, he famously told him ‘to give up’ because the fight was already over. Sure enough, ‘The Menace’ heeded his advice and tapped from a kimura in the third round.

In between rounds against Barboza, he yelled at Dana White to give him a title shot.

He also kept talking to Iaquinta during their title fight at UFC 223. At the press conference, he revealed the details of the conversation.

“Yeah, we talk a little bit. I give him jab… one, two, three, four. I say ‘Four’. He say, ‘One more!’

“I give him a fake [jab] and say, ‘No!’ A little bit of chat.

“I talk to Matt Serra too. I take Iaquinta down and Matt starts saying to him, ‘Good stuff. Do this, do this. It’s working. It’s working.’ I talk with Matt a little bit, like, ‘Good job Matt!’

At one stage, he was actually fond of Conor McGregor: Hard to believe it after all the ‘Irish chicken’ and ‘Dana’s son’ jabs, but there’s photographic evidence to prove it.

Conor McGregor

He is no longer friendly with Conor McGregor: Nurmagomedov never respected McGregor’s champion status. He called him things like ‘Irish chicken’ and ‘Burger King’ throughout his tenure as lightweight king.

However, their beef really kicked up a notch during UFC 223 fight week. It started with Nurmagomedov having a heated hotel altercation with McGregor’s main sparring partner Artem Lobov in the fighters’ hotel.

Then, McGregor traveled across the Atlantic to send Nurmagomdov a message. McGregor and a group of his associates stormed the hotel parking lot and attacked the red fighters’ corner bus which Nurmagomedov was a passenger on.

McGregor threw a dolly through the bus window. Two fighters were injured and three bouts scheduled for UFC 223 were forced to be canceled over the incident. Michael Chiesa suffered a sizeable gash on his forehead and was pulled from his bout against Anthony Pettis. Ray Borg suffered corneal abrasions from the shattered glass. His bout against Brandon Moreno was scrapped.

Artem Lobov, who was also part of the group that stormed the parking lot, was also removed from his fight against Alex Caceres as punishment.

Family man: Khabib was married in June 2013, and has a daughter and a son. He actually missed the birth of his son to fight Barboza at UFC 209.

Headgear: The hat he wears and subsequently puts on Joe Rogan is called a papakha. Before you go making a tit of yourself, it’s pronounced “puh-pah-hah”. The hat is native to his homeland of Dagestan. He wears it to pay respect to his Avar heritage. According to a fascinating FightLand article, the hat was worn by the shepherds in the ‘warrior, mountain clan.’

Famous Friends: Cristiano Ronaldo, Mike Tyson and NHL star Alexander Ovechkin are among the celebrity athletes he’s rubbed shoulders with.