Khabib Nurmagomedov would be lying if his father’s recent death wasn’t affecting him in training.
Nurmagomedov is set to return to action at UFC 254 on October 24 when he faces Justin Gaethje in a lightweight title unification fight in the main event.
That contest will take place only a couple of months following the death of his father Abdulmanap. Many initially though Nurmagomedov would retire from the sport given how close he and his father were.
Nurmagomedov: Maybe The Pain Will Make Me Stronger
However, he seems to be using it as motivation as he looks to defend his title against Gaethje and has expressed his desire to face Georges St-Pierre in a super fight next year.
That said, he is still dealing with the loss as anyone would.
“You know, I’m sure everyone in this room lost someone,” Khabib said speaking to media recently (via RT Sport). “A friend, a neighbor, a cousin, a mother, a father, girlfriend. Everyone goes through loss, I understand that. But on the other hand it’s very difficult. Some people have strictly a father-son relationship, but my father was very close to me. We were like friends. He was my father and coach, we were always together. We were very close.
“Of course I’m sad. If I tell you with a straight face that it doesn’t affect my training, that’d be a lie. It does affect me, I think about him all the time. Maybe this pain will put me on another level and make me stronger. Any challenge either breaks you or makes you stronger. We’ll see what it does to me in time.”
While Gaethje feels “The Eagle” has one major weakness, that is one thing he is certainly wary of — Nurmagomedov being the best version of himself following his father’s death.
You can watch Nurmagomedov’s full presser below: