Javier Mendez says Khabib Nurmagomedov ‘settled as a coach,’ his fighting days are definitely over


Khabib Nurmagomedov is a rare case in mixed martial arts as a fighter who retired on top of the world yet he rarely escapes questions about coming back to compete again.

Following a dominant win over Justin Gaethje in 2020 to move to 29-0 in his career, the now 34-year-old Russian announced that he was hanging up his gloves for good after making a promise to his mother that he would stop fighting following the death of his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov just a few months earlier.

Now two years removed from action, Nurmagomedov has transitioned into coaching where he works with fighters like Islam Makhachev, who headlines UFC 280, as well as family members such as Usman and Umar Nurmagomedov. Although he will likely face some questions regarding a possible return to action, Nurmagomedov’s former head coach Javier Mendez says that those days have passed.

“No [he’s not fighting again], he’s looked at it,” Mendez said on The MMA Hour. “He’s looked at when the fighters come out and get introduced by Bruce Buffer and he says ‘I love this thing’ but he’s very much settled as a coach and making sure that all his brothers — they’re not brothers but to him they’re brothers — that they all get the best opportunity to win a title.

” Many of them will win titles. You’ll see. Abdulmanap’s Gym will have many people who win .”


As he continues to put fighting in his rearview, Nurmagomedov is now being overwhelmingly praised by the work that he does as a coach.

Mendez acknowledges that he has had an influence on Nurmagomedov because of their close relationship which dates back almost a decade, but it was his father that served the greatest inspiration for the new coach the former UFC lightweight champion is now.

“As a coach, I would say he compares more to his father than he does me,” Mendez said. He is more like his father than I am. He has added some of my things that I’ve instilled in him but it’s more like 85 percent father, 15 percent me. This is how much his father had an impact on him. It was a great influence.

“I would say I added about 15 percent. He definitely has me in him, too, but you can’t deny his father. His father is his son .”


It’s almost impossible to pinpoint what makes Nurmagomedov an effective coach, but Mendes thinks it has to do with the close relationship that he had over the past year as both a father and son.

” He cares about his father the same way. Nurmagomedov is a man Mendez says he cares. He thinks of his fighters. He does everything that’s right for them. He’ll talk to them about anything, including lateness or missing something. He takes care of them financially if he needs to. He will do whatever it takes to help them succeed. He puts them right back on the track if they get off track. Like his father.

“Everything his father used to do, he’s doing, too and like I said, I just added about 15 percent to how he coaches but mostly it’s his father.”

Despite his fight career, Nurmagomedov was not able to fully focus his attention on coaching. However, he was always there for his athletes even when he was working on his preparation.

Now Nurmagomedov has become a full-time coach when many believing it’s only a matter of time before he starts producing a stable of champions and it might just start with Makhachev at UFC 280.

“[Coaching] was something he did since , 2014 before he came down with Islam and Abubakar [Nurmagomedov] as well as Zubaira [Tukhugov], Zubaira , and Umar Mendez. He would watch the sparring, then he’d coach those men with me while they were sparring. This was even in his fight for title.

“That’s the kind of love he has for the game and that’s the kind of love he has for his brothers.”