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'Not our hero': Vandals deface street mural dedicated to UFC lightweight king Khabib in Russian city

'Not our hero': Vandals deface street mural dedicated to UFC lightweight king Khabib in Russian city
Vandals in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk have defaced a Khabib Nurmagomedov mural dedicated to his latest victory against Justin Gaethje, after which the undefeated UFC lightweight champion announced his retirement.

The mural was created by Ural street artist Timur Brazil after Khabib submitted American interim 155lbs champion Gaethje in the second round of their contest at UFC 254 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi last month.  

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Khabib was depicted in the mural in his trademark papakha hat, with an eagle flying next to him in a nod to his fighting moniker.

But on Monday, pictures emerged showing that vandals had painted the fighter’s face in black and added the caption “He's not our hero” beneath the destroyed mural.

UFC champion Khabib, who improved his unblemished record to 29-0 with victory over Gaethje, has become embroiled in controversy in recent weeks after his attack on French President Emmanuel Macron over religion and freedom of speech, which led to the fighter being condemned by some Russian celebrities and public figures.

Khabib had savaged Macron amid mounting tensions in France, after satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo posted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

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Khabib – a devout Muslim from the Republic of Dagestan – shared his disgust at the French president on social media, accusing him of insulting Muslims by defending Charlie Hebdo's right to publish the cartoons.

The mural in Chelyabinsk, a city which lies around 1,500km to the east of Moscow, is far from the only one in the fighter's homeland. 

Another recent mural was painted in his native Dagestan, depicting Khabib and his later father and trainer, Abdulmanap. The image was based on a design by respected combat sports artist Boss Logic.