Umar Nurmagomedov will seek to remain undefeated when he returns at UFC Vegas 67 on Saturday but he’ll also be competing without his cousin and coach Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner.
After making the transition from fighter to coach and watching his teammates pick up several major championships — including Islam Makhachev claiming the UFC lightweight title and Usman Nurmagomedov becoming Bellator lightweight champion — the 34-year-old Dagestani native decided to take a break from the sport to spend more time at home with his family.
While the door to return to coaching isn’t necessarily closed forever, Khabib was dealing with an arduous travel schedule that required him to be away from his family for months at a time. Khabib now wants to devote himself to more businesses other than fighting, while keeping his main focus on his role as a father and husband.
For his part, Umar says that his cousin’s decision won’t stop him from coaching — he just won’t be present for each and every fight moving forward.
“He’s my brother and with me he can’t go away,” Nurmagomedov said at UFC Vegas 67 media day. I was talking to him about the fight and about losing weight. [Khabib] was stopping too much flying.
” I’ll train with him when we return home. I’m going to go to his home and say to him, let’s go to training. This guy, all the time training. He cannot stop.”
After he retired from active competition, Khabib took on a role of mentor and coach to others fighters. This was the exact same job his father Abdulmanap had done for many Dagestani athletes as well.
Khabib was praised by his team as being a mirror of his father in gym work, so the absence of him moving forward will have an impact on fighters.
Umar admits having Khabib around is always a big piece of the puzzle whenever he’s competing but at the same time, he ultimately has to go into that cage alone no matter who’s standing in his corner for any particular fight.
“Of course, this is a very big motivation when he’s close,” Nurmagomedov said. “I don’t know how we can be better. Everything, if you have to train and you do a good camp, do hard work and you’re ready, this does not matter. It is necessary to enter the cage [by yourself],”
With his attention on Raoni Barbelos this Saturday, Umar said he hadn’t been able to have an in-depth conversation with Khabib yet about his decision not to continue the sport.
Regardless of Umar’s plans, Umar still needs Khabib’s advice and assistance, particularly when he is back home.
That will be valuable advice as Umar targets a run towards the UFC bantamweight title next year but first he’s hoping for a very busy 2023 to put him in that position.
“I’m ready to be champion,” Nurmagomedov said. I’m prepared to fight anyone in the world. It doesn’t matter which organization is the champion, I’m ready. Training with extremely tough men was a challenge. I think I’m ready.
” I think next year [I will fight for the title]. This year, I’m going to do three or four fights and end of this year, I think I will be the [No. 1 contender].”