UFC veteran Khabib Nurmagomedov wore a papkha in the cage for the majority of his tenure. The papkha he wore reportedly belonged to his grandfather and was a staple of his octagon appearances.
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.
But many wonder why they haven’t seen Nurmagomedov carry a flag to the octagon like many of his collegues.
In international competition, it’s a normal thing for athletes to carry their country’s flag before or after competing against athletes from other countries. It’s simply to show their love to their country and to represent said country to the world. UFC used to allow athletes to carry flags in the octagon and during walkouts.
Back then, almost every UFC athlete would carry their home country flag, but not Khabib Nurmagomedov. And that predates the precarious situation of 2022.
The 34-year-old never displayed the Russian flag during his run in the UFC.
Khabib was asked about his reason for not carrying his country’s flag during his showdown during a UFC press conference back in 2019 in Moscow. The former UFC lightweight champion answered it by ridiculing Conor McGregor.
“People who wear flags say that they represent their native land. But, unlike them, I don’t r*pe women, don’t beat old people, don’t tell people to drink…” Khabib said.
“I represent in my own way, I don’t believe that if you wear a flag you’re a patriot. And if you don’t, you’re not.”
“There are many things that you must do before you raise that flag. It’s not enough to just raise it. You have to show good character. ”
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.