Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) is one of the biggest names in MMA. Despite retiring in October 2020 after submitting Justin Gaethje, ‘The Eagle’ still remains one of the most talked-about combat sports athletes.
Khabib’s decision to step away from MMA marked the end of an illustrious career with an undefeated record. During his heyday, the Dagestani fighter defeated some of the sport’s biggest names including Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Thankfully for the fans, the Russian stuck around as a coach and cornerman for select athletes.
However, much like his unexpected retirement from the sport, Khabib repeated the same with his coaching career. After cornering several fighters for a bit over two years, ‘The Eagle‘ announced he’d be stepping away from the world of MMA. Earlier this year in January, Khabib cited spending time and focusing solely on his family as the reason he has decided to take a backseat.
— Shakiel Mahjouri (@Shak_Fu) January 8, 2023
With a fighting career so decorated and cornering results so intriguing, fans have always wanted Coach Khabib to come back one more time. And the coming weekend might just be the time he shows up once again, at least that’s what the fans speculate.
— Marcel Dorff 🇳🇱🇮🇩 (@BigMarcel24) May 30, 2023
Khabib’s famed cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov (2-1 UFC) is returning after almost 8 months to face Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. The duo will be opening the main card of the upcoming Fight Night. And fans have a strong feeling that coach Khabib might make a rare return to corner his beloved cousin. But what are the chances? Let’s find out.
When did Khabib Nurmagomedov retire from his coaching duties?
After hanging up his gloves in October 2020, Khabib Nurmagomedov followed in his father’s footsteps. He became an MMA trainer at the famed AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) gym in San Jose. His team consisted of top fighters dominating renowned promotions around the world.
On top of his UFC career, he also made a huge impact in the coaching world. The success of his team has substantiated the Russian’s abilities as an elite coach. Under Khabib’s direction, his pupils have garnered a combined record of 19-2. Umar Nurmagomedov and Belal Muhammad have grown into unstoppable forces under his guidance.
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 7, 2021
However, the crowning of Islam Makhachev as the UFC lightweight champion and Usman Nurmagomedov as the Bellator lightweight champion remain Khabib’s most known coaching accomplishments.
Khabib was still active as a fighter when he first cornered an MMA fight. Ironically, Khabib’s first cornering gig came for none other than his cousin Abubakar during the latter’s UFC debut in Russia.
🦅 Khabib Nurmagomedov corners Islam Makhachev once again at #UFC267.
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 29, 2021
Despite both Khabib and his father Abdulmanap being in Abubakar’s corner, the fight’s outcome didn’t go as planned. David Zawada submitted Abubakar in the 1st round. Eventually, Khabib was seen consoling a visibly deflated Abubakar.
Later on, fans witnessed Khabib once again corner Abubakar as the latter finally secured his first UFC win against Jared Gooden in March 2021. ‘The Eagle’ went on to corner him at UFC 280 as well when Abubakar secured his second promotional win against Gadzhi Omargadzhiev. The same night Khabib coached Islam to win the UFC gold against Charles Oliveira.
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) October 22, 2022
After successfully creating several new champions, Khabib announced his retirement from the coaching role in January 2023. “Khabib left the MMA industry,” sources told Tass.ru. “He will no longer train, (and) will not be present with the team at the training camp. This is done to spend more time with his family.”
Will Khabib return this weekend to corner Abubakar Nurmagomedov?
As Abubakar walks toward his 4th UFC fight, rumor mills churn to speculate that Khabib might appear in his corner on June 3rd. Going by their Instagram, both cousins have shared ample stories and posts regarding the upcoming bout.
As the fight got closer, Abubakar moved to Las Vegas from his training camp at AKA for obvious reasons. However, the noteworthy part here is that Khabib too has seemingly made the travel along with him.
As per a now-expired story on Khabib’s Instagram, he was seen training alongside Abubakar just a few hours ago. Moreover, in a post, he also added how much he enjoyed the “hard training” at AKA for a “couple of weeks.” This post seemingly substantiates the speculation that Khabib isn’t in San Jose anymore and is in fact in Las Vegas.
View this post on Instagram
Thus fans are having a hard time believing that if Khabib is indeed in Las Vegas, it wouldn’t be to corner him come Saturday. Prior to this, the former UFC lightweight champion was also spotted rigorously training at AKA alongside Abubakar, Cain Velasquez, and Belal Muhammad.
Unfortunately for fans anticipating Khabib in Abubakar’s corner, AKA head coach Javier Mendez begs to differ. While speaking with The Schmo, Mendez shared, “Well, it’s gonna be me for sure. I’m pretty sure Khabib won’t be in the corner.”
He continued, “One thing people don’t understand, he never said he wouldn’t coach people. He said he’s not going to be in the corner and travel to fight camps because he’s spending time with his family, never said he wouldn’t come and visit here and there and train the guys.”
Whether or not coach Khabib returns to his cornering duties, the hype around him seems to have never tapered off. Do you believe he’ll surprise the fans come Saturday night? Let us know in the comments.