Editor’s notice: Some content material has been edited for readability and brevity.
Greater than something, Khabib Nurmagomedov and I are pals.
I’ve watched this man develop from a younger, Russian child who did not converse English to a worldwide celebrity.
He got here with a dream, not a lot cash. American Kickboxing Academy teammate Shawn Bunch picked him up on the airport, took him to McDonald’s and fed him as a result of he was hungry. After which he took him to the fitness center.
Khabib was undefeated on the time (18-0) and we might discuss to him a bit of bit, as a result of he could not actually converse a lot English. You noticed how intent on getting higher he was. You watch the child, and you then see Luke Rockhold exhibiting him one thing. After which Cain Velasquez could be exhibiting him one thing. After which I might be exhibiting him one thing. All people drew to him as a result of he was totally different, like a child who wished to study and was going to do no matter you advised him. He by no means questioned something.
Even in the present day as the worldwide celebrity that he’s, you are a coach, he is not going to query something you inform him to do. He is not going to query the best way you inform him to do it. He is a sponge for information. I simply keep in mind him all the time being in there, making an attempt to study and all people being drawn to him due to that actual key a part of his persona that made him need to study.
One factor that I used to all the time get pleasure from, was earlier than he was known as “The Eagle of Dagestan,” he wasn’t simply “The Eagle,” and he fought within the UFC, and he someway copied the audio of Bruce Buffer introducing him, so he would simply play that on a regular basis. Go as much as the locker room, and also you’d hear “Eagle of Dagestan, Nurmagomedov,” and that was among the first English the dude realized, was the right way to repeat Bruce introducing him within the Octagon.
‘Brother, I’ll be world champion’
You recognize what he advised me one time, years in the past, “Brother, I’ll be world champion, and I’ll struggle for $10 million each struggle.” I promise you. Years in the past, and all of us go, “No probability.” As a result of no person was making $10 million on the time. And I am positive proper now Khabib is combating because the world champion at 28-0 for $10 million, straight.
He positive would not want the cash, however he advised me that, as a result of he stated it was going to alter. He was going to be so massive that issues would change. And now, it has occurred. He has accomplished all of the stuff he stated he would do.
Dwelling in Dagestan, he would not want a lot. It would not value a lot over there. We despatched some children to wrestle there in January, and Khabib paid for his or her lodges. He took care of them, as a result of they have been my little wrestlers. Inns weren’t very costly. He would not want a lot, he does it as a result of he loves it.
I feel a number of stuff about his background could be very guarded, and it is guarded purposely. He is a man who’s a little bit of a thriller, and I feel a part of the intrigue to him is the thriller. So I am not going to blow the highest off that.
If I’ll share something, I take into consideration his father, Abdulmanap, and the depth his dad lived with. I might solely think about little Khabib rising up as that child in that home. Once I was mild heavyweight champ of the world, at some point I used to be reducing weight, Khabib’s dad jumped on me to grapple with me and the dude was really making an attempt to win. He was wrestling, making an attempt to win. Simply an intense man, very educated man. I do know that he raised Khabib fairly laborious.
‘I am so nervous, I’ve by no means accomplished an English interview’
Round 2015, 2016, Khabib got here to Fox to do an interview. And I used to be doing “UFC Tonight,” and I used to be like, ”You are able to do it. Simply attempt it.” He was like, “I am so nervous, I’ve by no means accomplished an English interview.” I believed he did properly, however I keep in mind, he would discuss, however he would solely discuss s—. It was like all he did was discuss trash, as a result of we made enjoyable of him on a regular basis. We made enjoyable of him for his little widow’s peak, we used to name him Eddie Munster. And he hated it. And he simply realized to speak trash again. And now, that is all he does is discuss s— the entire time.
There have been instances when Khabib was quick on coaching companions, and I will go in there and spar him, mild, I am not going laborious. I am simply form of working, however truthfully, you possibly can’t go as mild with Khabib as you’d need. He isn’t the conventional 155-pounder. He is massive and he is robust. He can wrestle, so that you form of have to present him a bit of bit greater than you’ll usually give a bit of man, however that is what makes him so particular. He might be standing throughout the Octagon from me, and that is once I was the heavyweight champion of the world, and I might go in there and spar with him a bit of and that dude had no concern. I form of have to surrender a bit of bit greater than I might usually give a bit of dude, as a result of this dude’s really making an attempt to win. He is like his dad.
He grapples a lot, it is wild. He grapples greater than anyone I’ve ever seen. He is getting higher at controlling, which is absurd, as a result of I do not assume I’ve ever seen a man higher at high management in my life. He is higher at chasing the finishes as soon as he will get on high, as a result of for some time, he was simply beating up guys. He wasn’t ending them as a lot as he wished to. However now he is getting finishes. All that management that Khabib does together with his legs now, it wasn’t like that earlier than. He was a wrestling man, like me, and we have been making an attempt to manage every part with our arms and squeezing, and over time he developed the flexibility to manage together with his legs, and it utterly modified the sport.
Flattening Conor McGregor, and eyeing Georges St-Pierre
Khabib takes a number of delight within the truth he knocked down Conor McGregor. It was alleged to be the wrestler vs. the striker, and for him to be the one who scored the knockdown, was a giant deal for him.
He would not actually say Conor’s title, although. I do not ever assume I’ve ever heard him say Conor’s title. It is all the time ‘this man.’ which I feel tells you the way he feels about him. And I attempt to trick him into saying it. He will not do it.
I do not assume he’ll be round very for much longer. I feel you need to take it in proper now. Clearly, he would not must struggle. I am positive he has sufficient cash, dwelling in Dagestan, for the remainder of his life. I feel he’ll struggle for possibly a 12 months or two, max. After which transfer on, spend time together with his household. I do know he doesn’t like each time he involves camp as a result of he misses his children and his spouse.
“I went into the locker room earlier than he fought Conor and I could not imagine the stillness of the room. The room wasn’t crammed with nervous power. We walked in there, me and my son, and he began wrestling with my son, earlier than the match.”
I feel a part of Khabib going away sooner slightly than later, is a part of the explanation why all of us love him a lot. It is that he understands that so long as he is champion, his teammate Islam Makhachev cannot be. And he seems like Islam is the champ if he isn’t combating. Even when it is for that, to present Islam that, he will not be that lengthy.
And it will suck. It’ll be a horrible day for all of us at AKA when Khabib walks away, as a result of he brings a distinct vibe to the fitness center, a distinct really feel. And he all the time has. Not simply because the champion now. When he was a child who did not know something, all people preferred Khabib, as a result of he simply introduced one thing totally different to our fitness center. He was like our Russian little brother who had a ton of potential. Now he is our Russian little brother who’s a worldwide celebrity.
When he is accomplished, I feel it is going to be over. I feel you may see him on social media often. However I feel he’ll be gone. I do not know if he is a kind of guys who loves fame. Some guys love fame. Possibly he’ll. I feel he’ll be round together with his teammates. However I do not know if he’ll be a man you see him randomly.
He loves the competitors. He loves the flexibility to go on the market and do one thing particular, depart individuals speaking. I feel struggle week, to him, means getting in there and with the ability to do one thing. I do not find out about all of the interviews, and every part that leads as much as it, however he has gotten actually good at it.
I went into the locker room earlier than he fought Conor and I could not imagine the stillness of the room. The room wasn’t crammed with nervous power. It wasn’t like I walked right into a room with individuals so nervous as a result of a man was getting walked out to lose. It was nonetheless. We walked in there, me and my son, and he began wrestling with my son, earlier than the match. I feel he lives for these moments, to go on the market and compete.
GSP would be the one he leaves on. If Khabib ever will get scheduled to struggle GSP, know that can most likely be the final time you see him. As a result of I understand how a lot he respects him. He respects Georges, and needs to struggle Georges for all the fitting causes.