Khabib Nurmagomedov shocked the mixed martial arts (MMA) world over New Year’s Eve weekend when he prematurely retired (again) from the sport. The first time was in Oct. 2020 when he retired from active competition as a fighter. Now, in Jan. 2023, he has retired from coaching and the MMA industry overall.
Multiple sources close to Khabib and regional outlets have confirmed this decision. Khabib himself shared screenshots of an article about his step away from the sport on his social media. “Khabib left the MMA industry,” a quote in Russian on Khabib’s Instagram read. “He will no longer train, will not be present with the team at the training camp. This is done to spend more time with his family.”
But, his cousin, Umar Nurmagomedov — who fights Raoni Barcelos at UFC Vegas 67 this weekend (Sat., Jan. 14, 2023) in Las Vegas, Nevada — is giving some more context to Khabib’s decision, and he doesn’t believe his cousin will disappear from the sport completely.
“I’m not surprised — I knew, and we were talking about this and I’m not nervous, I’m okay,” Umar said. “We had calls, we talked, he gave me advice about the fight, about cutting weight, and everything’s the same. But he just stopped — too many flights, too many travels.”
However, Umar still expects Khabib will keep training a smaller circle of fighters from his hometown gym.
“I think it’ll be the same,” he said. “We’ll be training together in Dagestan when he’ll be at home. I think nothing changes, we’re brothers. He will not travel too much, he will care about himself, his family, his mother, I think. You know, this is a very hard thing, traveling too much, cornering everybody. I think this is not easy. That’s why he made the decision, and I’m happy for him.”
Umar Nurmagomedov on Khabib's decision to step back from coaching: "I don't think he can stop, he will still control me and my brother, some other guys, but not the same (way), he doesn't want to travel, doesn't want to come to camps and stay with us for a couple of months." pic.twitter.com/smEYjIU9YV— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) January 11, 2023
“I think this guy has coaching in his blood, fighting, everything, these things,” Umar continued. “I don’t think he can stop. He will still control me, my brother [Usman Nurmagomedov], other guys. But not like the same, you understand? He doesn’t want to travel, he doesn’t want to come to camps, stay with us for a couple of months, like this. And ... I don’t think he can change, like stop. You have to say you’re going to stop and then not do nothing, you understand?”
Team Khabib fighters had an amazing 2022, and Khabib Nurmagomedov won “Coach of the Year” awards from many outlets coming into 2023. And as far as Umar Nurmagomedov is concerned, he’ll still have Khabib where it counts: in the gym, in Dagestan.
“When I’m at home I’ll be going to his gym and training with him,” Umar insisted. “Everything is the same.”
Umar Nurmagomedov comes into this weekend’s fight with Barcelos undefeated (15-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC). Barcelos, meanwhile, is 17-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC and 1-2 in his last three fights.
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