He may have died by now, but Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov will be in the corner of his son Khabib during UFC 254 – even after his death, Khabib was always anxious to follow his father’s path.
The lightweight champion’s father died in July of heart complications made worse by the coronavirus.
It was an issue Khabib hadn’t discussed with head coach Javier Mendez for weeks before the couple left for Dubai in September.
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But this time it will be different.
He will walk out of the Abu Dhabi octagon without his father – the reassuring voice not only for him but also for Mendez if there were any doubts before a fight.
“It works, and I’ll tell you how it works,” Mendez said.
“When I had his father with me, even though I was just cornered [with Abdulmanap] once and that was with Dustin [Poirier], the fact that I would talk to Khabib about things, about how we do things, and he always said to me, “Yes, my father says the same thing, coach.”
“I don’t have that anymore, so I don’t have this backup anymore as I did before. Someone who grew with him and knew him better than anyone, so it’s a little more difficult for me per se. But he did a fantastic job.
“He is motivated and motivated to uphold the legacy that he and his father planned. That’s the only thing I can say, that’s great. He says: “Coach, if something breaks, it’s okay because my mind isn’t broken.”
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His mind may not be broken, but Khabib always went to his father for advice on his game plan that has stayed with him throughout his career.
It’s his father’s way, but not necessarily the way Mendez would take.
“What I’m not comfortable with is that I like the easy way and to me I think it’s the best on the planet that there was ever at 155 to get people down and on the ground to stay, ”said Mendez.
“Well, I prefer the easy route, I always like that. He always scares me when he likes to be with people. I do not like it. I say this because I hope it sounds true to him not to stand with this guy.
“I don’t want this because it is not an easy feeling to know that you have an easier way to win and that he chooses the more difficult path. With his father there, he strictly followed his father’s plan 100 percent. That’s the part that scares me a little. ”
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Khabib was in no mood to discuss a possible rematch with Conor McGregor and refused to give him airtime or thoughts.
When Mendez said this, he admitted that McGregor was the better opponent.
“I thought when I looked at him, [Gaethje] is the second biggest threat because to this day I think Conor was [the biggest threat]“Said Mendez.
“And the reason I believe [it’s] This precision is noticeable to Conor. But Justin could easily prove me wrong and prove to be the toughest test we’ve ever had. We still have to see that. ”
However, if Khabib gets past Gaethje, it will be Georges St-Pierre who will be next up against the lightweight champion.
“If we can get past Justin, which I hope and that’s the plan, I would like GSP because I was in the car when he and his dad discussed the ideal final opponent was GSP,” said Mendez.
“Well, I don’t know if it’s Khabib’s last fight, but let’s just say it’s like you say I would say GSP. It would be my first choice. ”
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