Khabib Nurmagomedov retires as MMA coach, status of Islam Makhachev’s title fight up in the air

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 22: Khabib Nurmagomedov reacts after his teammate Islam Makhachev of Russia won the UFC lightweight title fight during the UFC 280 event at Etihad Arena on October 22, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Emirates.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Khabib Nurmagomedov, who coached Islam Makhachev to the UFC lightweight title he once held, shared a post via Instagram on Saturday indicating he was “leaving the MMA industry.” (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Khabib Nurmagomedov has retired early as a fighter, seemingly with a string of significant fights left in him. Now, it seems, he is doing the same as a coach.

Nurmagomedov shared a post in Russian on Instagram that indicated he was quitting the sport. Javier Mendez, a trainer at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, confirmed to Yahoo Sports Nurmagomedov’s plans to retire. Mendez coached Nurmagomedov to the UFC lightweight title and then guided Islam Makhachev to belt training alongside Nurmagomedov.

Mendez said Nurmagomedov, who has two boys and a girl, had been away from his family for a long time. Mendez told Yahoo Sports that Nurmagomedov simply wants to spend time with his family.

“He just doesn’t want to miss being a father,” Mendez told Yahoo Sports. “He spoke to me about three weeks ago and told me his plan and said he plans to speak to the team and inform them of his decision. He’s doing it for the right reasons. He is a family man and simply wants to spend more time with his family.

Nurmagomedov retired after his UFC 254 win over Justin Gaethje, saying his mother asked him not to fight again. Now, at least for now, he is stepping down as one of the most promising coaches in the sport for similar reasons.

Will Khabib be in Islam Makachev’s corner at UFC 284?

Mendez said he’s not sure if Nurmagomedov will work in lightweight champion Islam Makhachev’s corner when Makhachev defends his belt Feb. 11 at UFC 284 against featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski.

Makhachev is training in Dagestan with Nurmagomedov for the fight with Volkanovsky. Mendez said he will not see Makhachev until January 20 when he flies to Perth, Australia.

Nurmagomedov shared a post via his Instagram story from the za.khabib account that was translated from the Russian newspaper: “Khabib is leaving the MMA industry. It’s about training and everything else related to MMA. The reason is Khabib’s desire to devote more time to his family.”

If Nurmagomedov leaves the sport for good, it would be a significant loss given his ability to teach the sport and communicate with fighters. He has long had a keen eye for sports and was capable of breaking up fights like few others.

He also sparred regularly with his fighters and Mendez said it helped them all improve greatly.

“Khabib learned so much from his father [Abdulmanap, who died in 2020] both from me and some other great coaches he’s worked with, and his guys have learned so much from him,” Mendez said. “The things he learned from his father he instilled in the new generation and you can see the impact.

“Will we miss him? Absolutely. Will it negatively affect the team? That remains to be seen, but with what a great job he’s done coaching his cousins ​​and the rest of the team, I think they’re ready to move forward and continue his legacy.”

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