Khabib Nurmagomedov is a Russian professional mixed martial artist. He is a two-time Combat Sambo World Champion and the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion. With 28 wins and no losses, he holds the longest active undefeated streak in MMA. As of March 17, 2020, he is #2 in the UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings.
An ethnic Avar hailing from the Dagestan region of Russia, Nurmagomedov is the first Muslim to win a UFC title. In 2018, his headline bout with Conor McGregor at UFC 229 drew 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, the most ever for an MMA event. Trained in sambo, judo, and wrestling, Nurmagomedov's style of grappling has made him one of the most dominant athletes in the history of MMA. As of September 2019, he is the most followed Russian celebrity on Instagram.
Early lifeKhabib Nurmagomedov was born on 20 September 1988, in the village of Sildi in Tsumadinsky District of the Dagestan ASSR, an autonomous republic within the Russian SFSR, Soviet Union, before moving to Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, in his childhood. The second of three children, he has an older brother, Magomed, and younger sister, Amina. His father's family had moved from Sildi, Tsumadinsky District, to Kirovaul, where his father converted the ground floor of their two-storey building into a gym. Nurmagomedov grew up in the household with his siblings and cousins. His interest in martial arts began when watching students training at the gym.
As is common with many children in Dagestan, he began wrestling from an early age: he started at the age of eight under the tutelage of his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. A decorated athlete and a veteran of the Army, his father had also wrestled from an early age, before undergoing training in judo and sambo in the military. Khabib's training as a child included wrestling a bear when he was nine years old.
In 2001, his family moved to Machachkala, where he trained in wrestling from the age of 12, and judo from 15. He resumed training in combat sambo, under his father, at 17. According to Nurmagomedov, the transition from wrestling to judo was difficult, but his father wanted him to get used to competing in a gi jacket. Abdulmanap was a senior coach for the combat sambo national team in the Republic of Dagestan, training several athletes in sambo in Makhachkala, Russia. Nurmagomedov frequently got into street fights in his youth, before focusing his attention on mixed martial arts.
Mixed martial arts career
Early careerNurmagomedov made his professional MMA debut in September 2008 and compiled four wins in under a month. On 11 October, Nurmagomedov became the inaugural Atrium Cup tournament champion, having defeated his three opponents at the Moscow event. Over the next three years he went undefeated, finishing 11 out of 12 opponents. These included a first-round armbar finish of future Bellator title challenger Shahbulat Shamhalaev, which marked his M-1 Global debut. In 2011, he competed in seven fights for the ProFC promotion, all of which he won by TKO or submission.
A 16-0 record in the regional circuits of Russia and Ukraine was enough to get a call up from the UFC. Later, Khabib's father revealed in an interview that due to a contract dispute with ProFC they had 11 court cases contesting the legitimacy of Khabib's UFC contract. After losing six and winning five cases, they reached an agreement and Khabib was able to continue his career.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Early UFC fights and championship pursuitsIn late 2011, Nurmagomedov signed a six-fight deal to compete in the UFC's lightweight division.
In his UFC debut, on 20 January 2012 at UFC on FX 1, Nurmagomedov defeated Kamal Shalorus via submission in the third round.
Nurmagomedov next defeated Gleison Tibau on 7 July 2012 at UFC 148 via unanimous decision. 5 out of 6 media outlets scored the fight for Tibau.
Nurmagomedov's next fight was against Thiago Tavares on 19 January 2013 at. He won via KO in the first round. After the fight, Tavares tested positive for Drostanolone, an anabolic steroid, and received a 9-month suspension.
Nurmagomedov defeated Abel Trujillo on 25 May 2013 at UFC 160 via unanimous decision. At the weigh-ins, Nurmagomedov came in over the permitted limit, weighing in at 158.5 lb. He was given two hours to cut to the lightweight maximum of 156 pounds, but elected instead to surrender a percentage of his fight purse to Trujillo and the bout was contested at a catchweight. In the course of the fight, Nurmagomedov set a new UFC record for the most takedowns in a single fight with 21 successful takedowns out of 28 attempts.
In his fifth UFC fight, on 21 September 2013 at UFC 165, Nurmagomedov faced Pat Healy. He won the fight via unanimous decision. Attending his first post-event press conference, UFC president Dana White praised the relative newcomer stating, "That slam, when he just scoops him up and slams him, Matt Hughes style. That reminded me of the old Matt Hughes where he would run a guy across the Octagon and slam him. The kid is exciting. We’re probably going to do big things with this kid."
In December, Nurmagomedov challenged Gilbert Melendez on social media, with the two then expected to face off at UFC 170 on 22 February 2014. However, the bout was cancelled for undisclosed reasons, and Melendez was replaced by Nate Diaz. However, the match-up was cancelled as Diaz turned the bout down. Nurmagomedov expressed his disappointment, appearing on The MMA Hour, "If they say that they're willing to fight the best, they should fight the best. If they want, I'll take them both at once in the cage."
Nurmagomedov next faced Rafael dos Anjos on 19 April 2014 at UFC on Fox 11. He won the fight via unanimous decision.
Nurmagomedov was briefly linked to a bout with Donald Cerrone on 27 September 2014 at UFC 178. However, the pairing was quickly scrapped after it was revealed that Nurmagomedov had suffered a knee injury. He was later expected to face Cerrone on 23 May 2015, at UFC 187. However, Nurmagomedov pulled out of the bout on 30 April due to a recurring knee injury and was replaced by John Makdessi.
Nurmagomedov was expected to face Tony Ferguson on 11 December 2015 at. However, Nurmagomedov pulled out of the fight in late October, citing another injury, and was replaced by Edson Barboza.
The bout with Ferguson was rescheduled for 16 April 2016 at UFC on Fox 19. However, on 5 April, Ferguson pulled out of the bout due to a lung issue. Ferguson was replaced by promotional newcomer Darrell Horcher at a catchweight of 160 lb. Nurmagomedov won the one-sided fight by TKO in the second round.
In September, Nurmagomedov signed two contracts for a title shot against the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez, on either the UFC 205 or the UFC 206 fight card, with Dana White confirming the bout for UFC 205. However, on 26 September, the UFC announced that Alvarez would instead be defending the title against Conor McGregor. Nurmagomedov voiced his displeasure on social media, calling Alvarez a "bullshit champ" for refusing the fight and opting for a bout with McGregor instead, accusing the UFC of being a "freak show".
In lieu of a title shot, Nurmagomedov next faced Michael Johnson on 12 November 2016 at UFC 205. Nurmagomedov dominated the fight and was heard telling Dana White to give him a title shot as he mauled Johnson, winning via submission in the third round.
The bout with Ferguson was scheduled for a third time at UFC 209 on 4 March 2017 for the interim Lightweight Championship. Nurmagomedov, however, fell ill because of a botched weight cut, and the bout was cancelled as a result.
Nurmagomedov faced Edson Barboza on 30 December 2017 at UFC 219. Nurmagomedov dominated all three rounds, taking Barboza down repeatedly and dominating the fight with ground and pound. He won the fight by unanimous decision. This win also earned him his first Performance of the Night bonus.
Nurmagomedov vs. IaquintaA bout with Ferguson had been scheduled for the fourth time and was expected to take place on 7 April 2018 at UFC 223. However, on 1 April 2018, it was reported that Ferguson had injured his knee and was to be replaced by Max Holloway. On 6 April, Holloway was pulled from the fight after the New York State Athletic Commission declared him unfit to compete due to extreme weight cutting, and replaced by Al Iaquinta. Only Nurmagomedov was eligible to win the championship, as Iaquinta weighed in 0.2 pounds over the championship weight limit. Nurmagomedov dominated the fight, controlling Iaquinta from start to finish, and won via unanimous decision to become the UFC Lightweight Champion.
Nurmagomedov vs. McGregorOn Friday, 3 August 2018, UFC announced that Nurmagomedov would make his first defence of his lightweight title against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 on 6 October in Las Vegas. In the fight, Nurmagomedov defeated McGregor in the fourth round via submission. After the contest, Nurmagomedov scaled the Octagon and tried to attack McGregor's teammate Dillon Danis, which resulted in a brawl between the two teams.
Nurmagomedov vs. PoirierIn June 2019, Nurmagomedov signed a new multi-fight contract with the UFC. In the first fight of his new deal, Nurmagomedov made the second defence of his title against interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier on 7 September 2019 in the main event at UFC 242. He won the fight via a rear-naked choke submission in the third round. The win unified both titles and earned Nurmagomedov his second Performance of the Night bonus award. He and Poirier swapped shirts after the fight as a show of respect. In his post-fight interview Nurmagomedov said that he would be selling the shirt Poirier gave him and donating the proceeds to Poirier's charity. The shirt sold for $100,000 and the donation was matched by UFC president Dana White.
2020; Scrapped fight against Ferguson and beyondNurmagomedov was scheduled to defend his title against Tony Ferguson on April 18, 2020 at UFC 249. However, Nurmagomedov was unable to leave Russia as Russia restricted air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurmagomedov vs. GaethjeNurmagomedov is scheduled to defend the UFC Lightweight Championship in a unification bout against Justin Gaethje on October 24, 2020 at UFC 254.
Championships and accomplishments
Mixed martial arts
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- *UFC Lightweight Championship
- **Two successful title defences
- *Performance of the Night vs. Edson Barboza and vs. Dustin Poirier
- *Most takedowns in a single UFC fight vs. Abel Trujillo
- M-1 Global
- *M-1 Challenge: 2009 Selections
- Atrium Cup
- *Pankration Atrium Cup 2008 tournament winner
- *2013 Breakthrough Fighter of the Year.
- *2016 Beatdown of the Year.
- *2016 Comeback Fighter of the Year
- *2013 Staredown of the Year
- *2017 Performance of the Year
- World MMA Awards
- *2016 International Fighter of the Year.
- Combat Sambo Federation of Russia
- *2009 Russian Combat Sambo Championships Gold Medalist
- World Combat Sambo Federation
- *2009 World Combat Sambo Championships Gold Medalist
- *2010 World Combat Sambo Championships Gold Medalist
ARB">ARB (martial art)">ARB (Army Hand-to-Hand Combat)
- Russian Union of Martial Arts
- *European Champion of Army Hand-to-Hand Combat
- International Pankration federation
- *European Pankration Champion
- NAGA World Championship
- *2012 Men's No-Gi Expert Welterweight Champion
- *2012 ADCC Rules No-Gi Expert Welterweight Champion
As with other ground-and-pound fighters, such as Georges St-Pierre and Jon Fitch, Nurmagomedov's ground-and-pound fighting style has led to polarizing opinions. Former three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and two-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture praised Nurmagomedov as “brilliant”. MMA Commentator Joe Rogan, a black belt in both 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, said of Nurmagomedov, “He’s the most terrifying lightweight contender in the world,” and “he’s just on such another level that the odds of beating him drop significantly after the first minute-and-a-half.”
Personal lifeNurmagomedov married in June 2013. He has a daughter born 1 June 2015 and a son born 30 December 2017. His son was named after Khabib's great-grandfather – Magomed Nurmagomedov. On 31 August 2019, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov announced to the Russian media that Khabib and his wife are expecting their third child.
Nurmagomedov is a Sunni Muslim. He speaks several languages, including Avar, Russian, English, Turkish, and Arabic. He frequently wears a papakha hat, part of his Dagestani Avar culture, after fights and during promotions. He is a cousin of fellow UFC fighter Abubakar Nurmagomedov.
He has trained with SC Bazarganova in Kizilyurt, Dagestan, K-Dojo, AMA Fight Club in Fairfield, New Jersey, Mamishev Fight Team in Saint Petersburg, Fight Spirit Team in Kolpino, St. Petersburg, and KHK MMA Team in Bahrain. In 2016, he co-founded his own team, "Eagles MMA Team", with Ziyavudin Magomedov. He is a fan of Anzhi Makhachkala, Galatasaray, Real Madrid and Liverpool F.C., as well as the Russian national football team.
As of 2019, Nurmagomedov is a third-year student at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.
In May 2020, Nurmagomedov's father Abdulmanap was placed in a medically-induced coma after contracting COVID-19 following a heart surgery. Abdulmanap passed away on 3 July 2020 at a clinic in Moscow.
Bus attack at UFC 223 Media DayOn 3 April 2018, Khabib and Artem Lobov had a minor altercation, in which Nurmagomedov cornered Lobov. Lobov is known to be close to McGregor, with whom Nurmagomedov has had altercations and trash talk exchanges. The two groups have a lengthy history of insults and confrontations.
On 5 April 2018, during promotional appearances for UFC 223, McGregor and a group of about twenty others were let into the Barclays Center by credentialed members of his promotional team. They appeared to confront Nurmagomedov, who was on a bus leaving the arena with "red corner" fighters for UFC 223 on it, such as Rose Namajunas, Al Iaquinta, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Ray Borg, and Michael Chiesa. McGregor ran up alongside the slowly moving bus and then ran past it to grab a metal equipment dolly, which he then threw at the bus's window, before trying to throw other objects in the vicinity. Chiesa and Borg were injured by the shattered glass, and sent to hospital. They were soon removed from the card on the advice of the NYSAC and the UFC's medical team. Lobov was also pulled from his fight for his involvement in the dispute.
UFC president Dana White said there was a warrant out for McGregor's arrest, and the NYPD said McGregor was a person of interest. White claimed McGregor told him via text message: "This had to be done." "You can imagine he's going to be sued beyond belief," White said, and denied suggestions that the violence was a stunt intended to generate interest in the UFC.
McGregor and others involved initially fled the Barclays Center after the incident. He and a fellow accused turned themselves in that night: he was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. He was further charged with menacing and reckless endangerment at his arraignment and released on $50,000 bail until 14 June 2018. Under the bail conditions negotiated by his then attorney, Jim Walden, and set by the judge, McGregor is allowed to travel without restriction. On 12 April 2018, McGregor hired lawyer Bruce Mafeo of Cozen O'Connor to represent him in this matter. McGregor pleaded no contest to a count of disorderly conduct and was ordered to perform five days of community service and attend anger management classes.
On 12 September 2018, Chiesa announced a lawsuit against McGregor, saying that he "experienced pain, suffering and a loss of enjoyment of life" as a result of the attack.
Incident at UFC 229On October 6, 2018, following his victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 229, Nurmagomedov jumped the cage and charged toward McGregor's cornerman Dillon Danis, who provoked Nurmagomedov with trash talk from outside the cage. Soon afterwards, McGregor and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, Khabib's cousin, attempted to exit the octagon, but a scuffle broke out between them after McGregor punched Abubakar, who then punched him back. McGregor was then attacked by two of Nurmagomedov's cornermen, Zubaira Tukhugov and Esed Emiragaev. Zubaira Tukhugov, a Chechen fighter, was scheduled to fight on 27 October 2018 at against Artem Lobov, the McGregor team member who was confronted by Nurmagomedov in April 2018.
Nurmagomedov's payment for the fight was withheld by the Nevada State Athletic Commission as a result, pending an investigation into his actions. Nurmagomedov appeared at the post-fight interview and apologized to the NSAC, saying he was provoked by McGregor's trash talk and the UFC 223 bus incident, and adding, "You cannot talk about religion. You cannot talk about nation. Guys, you cannot talk about these things. This is very important to me." He later posted on Instagram that he had warned McGregor that he would pay for everything he had done on 6 October. Khabib's father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, later said he had forgiven Conor McGregor for everything and invited him to Russia to train in combat sambo.
The NSAC filed a formal complaint against both Nurmagomedov and McGregor and on 24 October, the NSAC voted to approve a motion to release half of Nurmagomedov's $2 million fight payout immediately. Both Nurmagomedov and McGregor received indefinite bans, at least until the official hearing, which was due to take place in December 2018. The hearing was expected to determine the final disciplinary outcome of the post-fight brawl. On 29 January 2019, the NSAC announced a nine-month suspension for Nurmagomedov, and a $500,000 fine. He was eligible to compete again on 6 July 2019.