Khabib Nurmagomedov is one of the most prominent Russian athletes in the world. Nurmagomedov, 33, might be retired now but prior to retirement he accumulated the pristine record containing 29 wins and no losses. Nurmagomedov’s trademark in the UFC octagon became a papakha.
Papaha, is a high fur hat, usually made of karakul sheep skin. It’s typical for the Caucasian region. Papakhi are donned by the Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanians, and other Caucasian tribes. This was Nurmagomedov’s subtle nod to his Dagestani origins.
Nurmagomedov’s nickname the Eagle also comes from the crest of Dagestan. But if things worked out differently for the former champion, he could’ve found himself on the other side of the conflict as citizen of Ukraine.
Khabib’s family has a long relationship with Ukraine. His father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov started his sports career with freestyle wrestling in Ukraine. He eventually won the championship of Ukraine in judo and sambo.
Adbulmanap also trained his brother Nurmagomedov Nurmagomedov to win a sambo/judo championship for the Ukrainian national team.
Khabib’s father and his two uncles (the three Nurmagomedov brothers) all finished their higher education in Poltava, Ukraine.
One of Khabib’s uncles and also Ukrainian citizen Alex Nurmagomedov, has shared this story in the past in an interview with Sport-express.
According to him, Khabib has applied for Ukrainian citizenship several times in the past. But all the applications were denied.
It was possibly during this time that Nurmagomedov was introduced as an Ukrainian fighter. He even went so far as to carry a Ukraine flag for his fight entrance.
Nurmagomedov’s relationship with the Russian government was touch and go for a time. At one point Nurmagomedov publicly pleaded for the help of his benefactor Ziyavudin Magomedov.
”Our elder brother, co-owner of our team Ziyavudin Magomedov, is in a difficult situation,” Khabib said in Russian during UFC 223.
Magomedov was arrested last week on embezzlement and organized crime charges.
Khabib Nurmagomedov was given the opportunity to have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin following his win against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi back in 2019.
Accompanied by his late father and head coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the unbeaten champion meet the strongest man in Russia and Head of the Republic of Dagestan, Vladimir Vasiliev. The meeting was filmed and it was very cordial and didn’t touch upon any nerves.
Nurmagomedov is silent on the subject of Russian Ukraine war – and likely worried about how it could affect his business dealings.