Khabib Nurmagomedov is Russian. But he’s not “Alexander Emelianenko” Russian. It’s unlikely you’ll find him pounding vodka and creeping on his maid. Because he not only avoids alcohol entirely, he also avoids women.
In a lengthy article published by Russian website Prosports.ru, Khabib is quoted as saying, “Alcohol and girls stand in the way of an athlete, they spoil him and make him weak.” (translation courtesy of “Touch” on the Underground forum).
The use of alcohol really rubs the Dagestanian’s papakha the wrong way.
“There are fighters in America who can drink on Friday and Saturday. After an event I saw it myself in the hotel: 80% of them are already drunk. Not the champs but the middle-of-the-pack guys, guys like one win, two losses.”
Of course, that math is problematic. If 80% of the fighters on the UFC roster had one win and two losses, we’d probably all be watching Bellator on Fox.
He continued, “Couple of times they called me with them to the club. I told them I’m a Muslim. And they were like, ‘Come on, we know two Muslims and they visit the clubs with us all the time!.’ I have tried to explain to them, a Muslim is not ideal but Islam is.”
As a practical matter, if you live in a culture where you will probably be asked to surprise wrestle a bear, it’s not a bad idea to lay off the bottle.
But Khabib’s beliefs are a matter of religious conviction. They are probably not the result of studying the health effects of mainlining post-fight Mickey’s Malt Liquor at an American Legion. And prohibitive religious convictions can be difficult to understand unless you subscribe to a particular religious view.
For instance, it may be hard for some fans to square a prohibition against alcohol with a habit of buying people uppercut martinis on the road to becoming chronically punch drunk.
Nonetheless, a capacity for complete dedication is admirable. We can agree about that, even if we debate whether the cause is worth the commitment. But Khabib is doing something right. He’s undefeated, 22-0 in MMA, and one more win is likely to position him for a chance to become UFC champion.
So you middle-of-the road eighty percenters out barhopping after the next UFC. Crack a Budweiser and toast Khabib. Because that girl grinding on your fight shorts as you mourn your last couple losses? She is only there because Khabib isn’t interested.