AFE Spotlight of the Month - Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov: The Fierce But Composed Octagon Warrior
If football, basketball, and other sports are highly dependent on natural talent, then I certainly believe fighting can be too; the natural instinct, intelligence, being able to read an opponent and having a gut feeling that tells you it is time to strike.
There is currently no one with so much evident and obvious fighting talent as the two-time gold medalist, undisputed Lightweight Champion of the UFC and the man with the longest active undefeated streak in MMA, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Born in Dagestan, Khabib is the first Russian and first Muslim to ever win an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title. He’s faced a lot of adversity coming into one of the most important fights of his career against his toughest and most controversial opponent, Irish superstar Conor McGregor.
Leading up to one of the most anticipated fights in sports fighting history, Khabib’s fight drew 2.4 million PPV viewers.
However, prior to the fight, there was provocateur attacks and antics used against Khabib. He was attacked by a dolly and received plenty of discriminatory remarks towards his religion, culture, and family.
As it stands, the UFC backs Conor McGregor, as long as he continues to deliver money to promote UFC fights and sell pay-per-view subscriptions, he will always be their golden boy.
McGregor is known for his taunts, insults and sometimes open disrespect to his opponents. He has history, trying to throw a chair at Eddie Alvarez, throwing bottles at Nate Diaz’s team, jumping the cage to attack Jose Also, and etc. It seemed that divine justice was out for McGregor, a justice that would finally come in the form of Khabib Nurmagomedov.
This mix up would lead to a violent outburst by McGregor, who attacked a bus carrying UFC fighters for UFC 223, hauling an equipment dolly at them. Khabib would come out fine and unharmed, while a few other UFC fighters were not so lucky, sustaining facial injuries.
The UFC would go on to announce a match between McGregor and Khabib, slated for UFC 229. This fight was seen for the public to remember McGregor’s undeniable skill despite his negative image and would give him the perfect opportunity to redeem himself.
During a press conference, Khabib replied,” he thinks whiskey is going to help him” when McGregor offered him. He would call Khabib a “backwards [insult]”, a “Dagestani rat”, his father a “quivering coward” and lastly, his manager a “terrorist snitch”. Throughout the promotion for the highly anticipated fight, McGregor would attack Khabib verbally, using a plethora of Islamophobic and racial slurs, which would have gotten through the skin of anyone.
Not Khabib Nurmagomedov.
In Islam one can experience anger, grief, joy, etc natural emotions from the heart but is accountable with how one reacts to their anger. Khabib remained quiet and professional throughout, showing the true qualities of a champion and the exemplary human, letting the greatness of his patience and faith speak more than any number of words could. Khabib is renowned for uttering the word “Alhamdulillah” pre- and post- matches. The word, which means “Praise be to the Lord or Thank God,” is proof of Khabib’s recognition of God’s hand in his life, talent, and success.
Khabib would carry this same appreciation into UFC 229, where he would dominate Conor McGregor in a way which no other fighter had done before. Not even illegal strikes and blows could save McGregor who grabbed Khabib’s shorts, held on to the fence cage, and illegally struck a knee and elbow to the head of the downed fighter, as Khabib worked his way through him.
McGregor would be heard begging to Khabib during the fight, though it meant nothing as Khabib punished the Irishman with his lethal ground and pound fighting and his superior grappling.
All of Conor McGregor’s strength seemed to have been oozed out of him by his words, so much so that in the fourth round, he was practically nothing but a training size up for Khabib. With a rear neck choke, Khabib would complete his submission victory and the statement he made before the fight that, “he’s a tap machine” – stating McGregor's ability to easily submit to defeat. This proves, he is a man of his words. He improved his impressive and historic winning streak to 27-0 in MMA and ensured he retained his Lightweight title while delivering crushing justice.
Khabib kept his composure, patience, and fortitude. While using his religious spiritual and mental skills as an MMA fighter to overcome racism and unsportsmanlike behavior looking past to win the match.