Russian MMA legend won’t coach compatriot in title fight – manager
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s recent decision to step away from mixed martial arts likely means that he won’t be in his friend and training partner Islam Makhachev’s corner for his UFC 284 lightweight title defense against Alexander Volkanovski, according to his manager Rizvan Magomedov.
It was revealed in recent days that former UFC champion Nurmagomedov, who retired in 2020 from active competition with an unblemished 29-0 record, was to step away entirely from mixed martial arts after stating his desire to spend more time with his family.
Since retiring from his in-cage career, Nurmagomedov embarked on a blossoming coaching career, with his students going an impressive 19-2 in 2022 – including world title wins for Makhachev as well as for his cousin, Usman Nurmagomedov.
The timing of Khabib’s announcement had led to questions as to whether or not he would be cageside of Makhachev’s first title defense against UFC featherweight champion and pound-for-pound king Volkanovski, which tops the UFC 284 bill on February 11 in Perth, Australia.
But according to his manager Rizvan Magomedov, it is unlikely that Khabib will be on hand to assist his longtime colleague.
“I think he made it clear and it was such a balanced decision that he approached for a long time,” Magomedov told Match TV, when probed if Khabib would be traveling down under next month.
“There is no need to look for any behind-the-scenes reasons or radical incidents there. He just came to this [decision]. He ended his career in 2020 but travels during training camps, during fights.
“Out of twelve months he is away from home for ten, constantly on these trips.
“And he came to such a decision that it was time to spend time with his family, devote time to children.
“And, most likely, he will miss this fight, yes.”
Makhachev will instead be cornered by longtime US-based coach Javier Mendez, as well as by Azerbaijani freestyle wrestler Muslim Amiraslanov for the fight, which promises to be the biggest test of the Russian fighter’s career.
Both Khabib and Makhachev began their training under the tutelage of Khabib’s father Abdulmanap, who died in 2020.
Khabib has cited Makhachev as his successor in the UFC lightweight division – a prophecy which became fulfilled when he claimed the vacant title in a fight with former champion Charles Oliveira in October.
And if Makhachev is successful against Volkanovksi, he will likely succeed the Australian at the top of the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, assuming the mantle held by Khabib Nurmagomedov upon his retirement more than two years ago.