The Height Of Khabib’s Career: What is Next in 2021?

22 Jan , 2021,
A. J. Riot

It does not take a genius for one to know who Khabib Nurmagomedov is. He has taken over the headlines for the past few years, and for all the right reasons-his greatness. Born in 1988, Khabib is a 32-year-old fighting machine and one of the staples in MMA betting. All the fans that he has procured over the years hear and see rumours of him fighting off bears when he was a child (yes, really), in addition to additional intense fighting rumours that he actually went through. So, you can call this a short but sweet biography of everything he has managed to build for himself thus far.

It was only a few weeks ago that Khabib defeated Justin Gaethje within the second round and then shocked the world with his announcement to retire. Great figures like him genuinely deserve tons and tons of stories told about him within the history books, so let us start with this one! Continue reading for all the facts, figures and information you ever wanted to know about the number one pound-for-pound fighter. 

Early Life: The Trigger To His Career 

This is the part where we talk about the life leading up until now. What inspired his journey to becoming the fighter he is, who stood by his side and what his training actually looked like, as intense as it was.

 Khabib was born in Sildi, Dagestan during the year 1988, making him 32 years old to date. At the height of 5 foot 10 and 155 pounds, Khabib has ventured across the Lightweight and Welterweight categories from 2008 to the most current date. With 29 unbeaten victories in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), It is without a doubt that everything he has achieved up until today was through the inspiration of his father. Word has it that Khabib was inspired as a young boy, from watching his father train individuals into becoming fighting figures within the industry. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Khabib’s father was an inspiring man for all that were in his presence. Abdulmanap unfortunately passed away earlier this year due to complications with his heart and contracting the COVID virus, nevertheless his memory and the morals live on today through all the fighters he trained and passed his knowledge on to. Of course, the biggest impact in sport Abdulmanap had influence over was his very own son Khabib.

 Khabib always held family as the greatest importance and influence on his success-without the knowledge, life experience and input of his father, he truly believed he would never have had the headlines he currently has at his disposal today. His greatness was his fathers, and for that reason, he never ever sought anyone other than his father to be his coach and advisor through his climbs and heights of his career. For many fighters, Khabib allowed himself to be singled out and noticed from a very early age, due to the discipline and edge that his father had taught him from when he was first able to walk really. This old force and alchemy of fighting that Khabib’s father instilled within him, was founded as a philosophy of fighting to Khabib. To be honourable and a great fighting warrior, is to accept you are never a boss just because reign over others with title wins. You must always accept that you are continuously learning and a student of life. Taking all this in mind, you can truly understand as to why Khabib brought himself across so well to the world. He had values and morals imprinted within him and he really did embody that greatness in a walking, talking and powerful machine.

Wait what? Khabib wrestled a bear?

Of course, many saw the video release of a young nine-year-old Khabib wrestling and tackling a Dagestani bear to the ground. We repeat, it was a bear and he was nine years old! His father appeared to be watching with no fear or worry that his child was facing a mammal of the utmost strength and power. It may seem barbaric to people who do not understand the method behind this madness, yet his father commented on the matter many times to the press. Abdulmanap wanted to teach Khabib to be fearless and if anything, test his son’s character beyond the physical practicalities and challenges that this brought forward to the nine-year-old UFC champion. Khabib also challenged lions as he grew older as it was believed through this challenging exercise, he would be able to improve his grappling skills and of course strength to hold off the wild animals in combat. One could say that walking in the ring, against a couple of MMA fighters, here and there and are but a piece of cake from then on really.

This of course is not the only challenge that is often presented to Dagestani training martial art fighters. The fighting schedule is somewhat intense and brutal to outsiders, but the main lesson to gain from it is, through discipline comes undoubted strength and resilience. Other activities for martial artists and Khabib’s caliber include hitting the body parts of the shins repeatedly on the trunk of a tree, as supposedly this desensitizes the feeling of pain once fighters approach opponents in fights. Many will of course notice how well Khabib often takes hits, without even flinching. So obviously, these methods do in fact work. Of course, these fighting principles will never likely hit anywhere else around the world other than the regions of Russia, as it goes far and beyond a usual typical martial arts training practical’s we suppose. These intense training methods have in fact been a training tradition for centuries, and never have become outdated for training legends like Khabib and those before him and who will follow from this region of the world. Umar Nurmagomedov, a fellow martial artist also takes inspiration from Khabib’s training methods, and is currently making ground within the world of MMA with a 12-0 victory rate.

The Journey Forward

Being that his combat journey began in 2001, he was 13 years old when his father guided him through a vigorous training programme in wrestling and general martial arts. Once Khabib managed to grasp the foundations of wrestling and developed the strength capabilities, alongside the mental amplitude; his father saw that it was best that Khabib dabbled within the art of Judo too, to try and give him an all-round capability. Khabib has mentioned in many interviews that he found the greatest physical test and challenge for his build up to his career, was the switchover from wrestling to Judo at 15 years old. However, it was Abdulmanap that thought it was absolutely necessary that Khabib do this vigorous changeover, so that Khabib would be able to complete his tournaments wearing a GI jacket. 

This training that Khabib was exposed to, continued for a few years, until Abdulmanap took the decision to take his family to Kiev, so that Khabib could further complete his training and progress to the peak of his fitness. He was at the age of 17, when Khabib had begun to learn the art of the martial combat of sambo. Sambo is a highly recognised sport within the Soviet and is considered the amateur wrestling sport for anyone to take part in, should they wish to progress further into the physical combat art opportunities internationally. This sport is seen as relatively new, being that it only originated within the early 1920’s, however many of the Russian born fighters, will have all gone through the process of testing themselves in the tournaments and matches that this martial combat sport presents to contributing athletes.

Career and Events to Occur

It was not until 2008, that Khabib made his debut within the MMA world. It was in the CSFU Champions League within the region of Poltava in Ukraine, that he progressed forward and faced his first opponent within the ring. Vusal Bayramov was his opponent and on September 13th, Khabib managed to make an epic win of his first within the league and made Vusal submit to him during their fight. Of course, many would call this a beginner’s luck at first hand watch, yet he managed to continue this lucky straight very much then on and after, when he succeeded in beating three opponents within a single day! All doubt that first assembled from any of the audience and watchers, soon began to fade away after watching his dramatic victories. In October, just a few weeks after the Vusal fight, Khabib took on Magomed Magomedov, Shmail Abdulkerimov, and Ramazan Kurbanismailo and defeated them all seamlessly. This managed to give him the huge recognition he deserved, also building up a buzz, and intrigue around him as a fighter. His fierce reputation preceded him within the MMA world, and that all was attained by being the first to make three victories all in one day for his claim of the Pankration Atrium Cup 1 for the Lightweight Division in Moscow.

In 2009, the next victory rolled in for Khabib, as he managed to secure the Tsumada Championship 3 Tournament in his name, within the region of Agvali, Russia. The opponents he knocked out were within the welterweight division, as Khabib managed to touch in both lightweight divisions and welterweight within his career. Edar Eldarov and Said Akhmed were defeated on the 8th of August. Then following up from this tournament, Shahbulat Shamhalaev also submitted to Khabib on the 3rd of November 2009 too, at St. Petersburg to allow further victory for Khabib within the Lightweight division for the M-1 Challenge for the 2009 Selections. Khabib’s ability to manipulate his weight under such dramatic precautions and in little time is one of the reasons that has given him the glory and name today. Many would find themselves affected in performance, moving from one division to another so quickly, yet Khabib tied in all the time in between performances so powerfully, without little to any effect.

During the years 2010-11, Khabib took on the Welterweight division once again, within Ukraine and Russia. Defeating Ali Bagov in June of 2010, he continuously took down every opponent he faced, up until the 22nd of October the year of 2011. The opponents he successfully managed to surpass and win are Vitaliy Ostroskiy during September 2010, then Alexander Agafonov in February 2011, Said Khalilov in April 2011, Ashot Shaginyan in May 2011, Kadxhik Abadzhyan in July 2011, Khamiz Mamedov in August 2011, Vadim Sandulskiy in September 2011 and finally Arymarcel Santos finished up 2011 as Khabib’s final winning fight of that commencing year. Khabib never went back into the Welterweight division after that, he chose to remain within the lightweight from then on after.

It was in 2012 that Khabib managed to hit the states and take his training up another notch, due to the potential that he has shown throughout the consistent undefeated wins he showcased so far. He had multiple training teams which reached across the continents and globe. Within the region of Dagestan, it was SC Bazarganova that allowed Khabib to further excel his talents within that year. Khabib also joined the AMA Fight Club within New Jersey, USA to prepare him for the UFC fight debut he would make within the January of 2012. Not only did he have the teams within Dagestan and USA supporting him, he had the full mentorship and guidance from the Mamishev Fight Team within St. Petersburg backing him up too. Khabib’s experience extended from leadership and guidance that expanded internationally-and many believe this support system is what allowed him to rise so dramatically as he did. Of course, talent is just as important, but as Nurmagomedov mentioned, it’s the guidance that contributes to success-taking away pride and being humbled to learn from those with experience and knowledge, is of course the key to success. Thus, his next fights were of course a further success, Kamal Shalorus submitted to Nurmagomedov in Nashville, during the professional MMA fight early on within the year of 2012. The UFC 148 fight in Las Vegas, was the most anticipated fight of Khabib’s career, and yet again, he swept Gleison Tibau off his feet in little time during the July of 2012. The way Khabib has always portrayed his character within his fights with a calm silence, yet such intense power, indicates how much of a unique talent he is. Well and truly and without any doubt.

It was later on within Khabib’s career that he started to earn some real cash from the fights that he actively took part in. During the beginning of the year 2013, Thiago Tavares was knocked out in Brazil, in addition to Abel Trujillo for the UFC 160 later on in May. Both opponents were fought with a catch weight of 158 pounds. Nurmagomedov then decided to take a few months out, to marry the sweetheart of his childhood during June 2013. The wedding was so extravagant, they invited 3000 guests to attend the ceremony. It apparently cost a total of 700,000 rubles. Yet within the Islamic traditions of Russia, it was exceptional to be able to invite all the neighbors and family within the village that Khabib had originally grown up in. 

Nurmagomedov decided to get back into the fighting spirit and swing of things, during the month of September, just three short sweet months after his marriage. This Canadian hosted UFC 165, providing Khabib yet another win over Pat Healy, through a unanimous decision within the panel. Khabib then didn’t fight for quite some time, it was only the following year 2014 that he took up the ring once again during April, to face Rafael dos Anjos. As expected he won over the crowds and judges to attain himself another victory to his record thus far. Orlando definitely gave him an amazing high that was perfectly timed, as his wife shortly announced after that she fell pregnant in the coming months with his first daughter Fatima Nurmagomedov. Khabib opted to take a time out for a whole year from fighting, to ensure he was there for moral support to his wife, and of course welcome his daughter on the 1st of June in the year 2015. He did personally keep to his training consistently, with the KHK MMA team that he had procured for himself during his rise.

With his continuous training, Khabib was able to make a comeback from his hiatus to fight Darrel Horcher in Florida Tampa during 2016. Darrell Horcher was knocked out, even at the weight of 160 pounds, Khabib made sure to use Horchers extra weight to his advantage. The following fight with Michael Johnson brought another victory, but this time Jordan submitted to Khabib in New York City, USA. Some say that this victory was what really spread the word and name of who Khabib was in the game of MMA. Khabib used this exposure to his advantage. He managed to procure a business deal with one of Russia’s Billionaires Ziyavudin Magomedov, and together they founded the Eagles MMA Team for training MMA hopefuls and wannabes. This business acquisition was one of the most fulfilling moves that Nurmagomedov did within his career. In many interviews, he had mentioned how he hoped to lift and inspire youths to take the same steps he did within the industry of MMA. Essentially, the Eagles is a part of him that he can give back to the community, for many generations to come.

In December of 2017, Khabib managed to make another victory for himself during UFC 219 in Las Vegas. It did seem as if the fates had aligned with the best of luck for Khabib, as his son Magomed Nurmagomedov was born that very same day, just before the victory of yet another opponent. Khabib went into that fight with spirits that soared, very much unchallenged and with a power that exceeded what he has ever shown previously. However, it was not until the year 2018 that Nurmagomedov managed to secure the UFC Lightweight Champion in April, during the UFC 223 within Brooklyn New York against Al Iaquinta. Conor McGregor did try and come along to take that title away, yet Khabib managed to defend his title-epically so, during the fall of 2018 in Las Vegas. 

This match caused huge controversy, as Khabib did actually jump out of the ring to fight McGregor when the match was suspended, due to McGregor slanting and throwing around racist comments to Khabib, his father and team. The UFC did unfortunately withhold some of Khabib’s winnings due to this incident, yet Nurmagomedov had said that his family and honour meant more than anything in the world. If anyone was to dare dishonor them, it would have repercussions. It sent the media into an outrage soon after as Khabib got fined $500,000 by the UFC officials and banned 6 months, whereas McGregor only got fined $50,000 and banned for 3. Yet Khabib held his head high and stood the ground of his actions, with no hesitation or regret. He simply humorously laughed it off and used his social media platforms to humorously quote ‘politics forever’.

Nurmagomedov’s final fights were with Dustin Poirier, during the UFC 242 and Justin Gaethje during the UFC 254 were he successfully defended his Lightweight Championship belt honourably. Of course, his final fight on October 24th, 2020, brought a completely different dynamic, being that his father was no longer in attendance with him, due to passing away on the 3rd of July 2020. Nevertheless, Khabib came and conquered, defending his title and telling the world how he dedicated his career to the inspiration and memory that his father had left to him and the community back in Dagestan. Unfortunately, the death of his father did fuel an early retirement for Khabib, making the 29th fight his last and only for his career. Many had hoped that Khabib would have pushed his fighting a little further to the big number 30, yet he was adamant that his family were to come first before anything else and he no longer wished to neglect his mother, wife and children. He made a promise to his mother that Gaethje was his final fight and with that, he honored his promise.

What did he Manage To Achieve?

Khabib walks away from a career that many fighters dream of. Not only did he manage to make the rankings as number one for pound-for-pound fighters, he also represents one of the best fighters when it comes to manipulating his weight for the sake of the art that MMA brings. In his victories within sambo, his weight peaked at 82 kilograms, yet he still maintained his speed and power, when it came to footwork. In 2020 during his final fight, he managed to lose a stone within 6 days and still maintain the stamina and power to yield Justin into submission. There is no doubt about it, Khabib is a master within the field of martial arts. All his victories listed equate to a sleek 29-0 of undefeated victories, and 11 submissions. The best record that anyone in his division has ever made for themselves. A reigning legend of our time.

Timeline of Achievements

    • October 24th 2020 UFC 254, Khabib vs Gaethje: Win via submission, (round 2) at 1:34.
    • September 7th 2019 UFC 242, Khabib vs Poirier: Win via submission, (round 3) at 2:06.
  • October 7th 2018 UFC 229, Khabib vs McGregor: Win via submission (round 4) at 3:03.
    • April 7th 2018 UFC 223, Khabib vs Iaquinta: Win via unanimous decision (round 5) at 5:00.
    • Dec 30th 2017 UFC 219, Khabib vs Barboza: Win via unanimous decision (round 3) 5:00.
  • Nov 13 2016 UFC 205, Khabib vs Johnson: Win via submission (round 3) at 2:31.
    • Apr 17 2016, Khabib vs Horcher: Win via KO/TKO.
    • Apr 19 2014 UFC on Fox, Khabib vs Anjos: Win by unanimous decision (round 3) at 5:00.
    • Sep 22 2013 UFC 165, Khabib vs Healy: Win by unanimous decision (round 3) at 5:00.
    • May 26 2013 UFC 160, Khabib vs Trujillo: Win by Unanimous decision (round3) at 5:00.
    • Jan 20 2013 UFC on FX, Khabib vs Tavares: Win by KO/TKO (round 1) at 1:55.
    • Jul 8 2012 UFC 148, Khabib vs Tibau: Win by unanimous decision (round 3) at 5:00.
    • Jan 20 2012 UFC on FX, Khabib vs Shalorus: Win by submission (round 3) at 2:08.
    • Oct 22 2011 ProFC, Khabib vs Santos: Win by TKO (round 1) at 3:33.
    • Sep 15 2011 ProFC, Khabib vs Sandulitskiy: Win by Submission (round 1) at 3:01.
    • Aug 5 2011 ProFC, Khabib vs Mamedov: Win by submission (round 1) at 3:51.
    • Jul 2 2011 ProFC, Khabib vs Abadzhyan: Win by submission (round 1) at 4:28.
    • May 6 2011 ProFC, Khabib vs Shahinyan: Win by KO (round 1) at 2:18.
    • Apr 9 2011 ProFC, Khabib vs Khalilov: Win by submission (round 1) at 3:16.
    • Feb 12 2011 M-1 Selection, Khabib vs Agafonov: Win by TKO (round 2) at 5:00.
  • Sep 18 2010 M-1 Selection, Khabib vs Ostrovskiy: Win by TKO (round 1) at 4:06. 
    • June 10 2010 GFP Golden Fist Russia, Khabib vs Bagov: Win by unanimous decision (round 3) at 5:00.
    • Nov 3 2009 M-1 Challenge , Khabib vs Shamhalaev: Win by Submission (round 1) at 4:26.
    • Aug 8 2009 TFC 3, Khabib vs Eldarov: Win via TKO (round 2) at 2:44.
    • Aug 8 2009 TFC 3, Khabib vs Akhmed: Win by TKO (round 1) at 2:05.
    • Oct 11 2008 PAC, Khabib vs Abdulkerlmov: Win by unanimous decision (round 2) at 5:00.
    • Oct 11 2008 PAC, Khabib vs Kurbanismailov: Win by unanimous decision (round 2) at 5:00.
    • Oct 11 2008 PAC, Khabib vs Magomedov: Win by unanimous decision (round 2) at 5:00.
  • Sep 13 2008 CSFU, Khabib vs Bayramov: Win by submission (round 1) at 2:20.

Retirement: Why and Where to Next?

Due to honoring his word and promise to his mother, Khabib officially announced on the 24th of October 2020 that he will be walking away from competing and retiring completely from mixed martial arts. The triangle choke that Khabib managed to finish his final fight, is one that has only ever been featured 3 times entirely within UFC, so many could say he truly left the octagon with an impact and imprint of his name. He remains firm that his success is nothing without his father by his side and his word to his mother is one that he must follow through on.

We may have seen the last of him within the octagon yet one thing is for sure, Khabib will follow through in the footsteps of his father. He has often shown through his social media accounts, his love of supporting his fellow family and community in their love of MMA. The word is on the streets that Khabib will accompany the side of his fellow cousin Umar Nurmagomedov in his rise to fame, alongside ensuring that his Eagles MMA Team can support the youths in making it into the UFC realm. We have not seen the last of him, in fact this may just be the beginning. 

One thing we will say is, Abdulmanap is looking down on Khabib and he is definitely proud of the man that Khabib has become.

Awards and Recognition 

After announcing his retirement to the sport and career Khabib founded with the UFC and MMA, Khabib received a BBC Sports Personality World Sport Star of the Year award, in recognition of the life and discipline that he has given to the sport. Having won the hearts of many with his ambitious story, this award really does add the cherry on top of his career. Khabib knocked off hopefuls of this award, including LeBron James, Dustin Johnson, Armand Duplantis, Wendie Renard and Katie Taylor.

After the announcement of his retirement, it was revealed shortly after that Khabib had in fact broken his foot weeks before his win, within training. So it can only be imagined how even greater his performance would have been if he came to the ring in full health, and his final fight with Justin already being a phenomenal one.