Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father Abdulmanap had words of respect for his son’s former opponents Rafael dos Anjos and Dustin Poirier, but said he never believed Conor McGregor was a serious challenge to his son’s UFC lightweight title.
Speaking at an event in Makhachkala, Russia, Abdulmanap revealed that his favorite fight he’s seen from his son came before he captured the UFC lightweight title, when he lined up against a man who himself would go on to hold UFC lightweight gold.
“I frequently answer this question,” he told a packed room. “My favorite fight of his is with (Rafael) dos Anjos.
“I’ll explain why. Before the dos Anjos fight, we trained for three months in the mountains. We put in the most work of our lives in those mountains. Khabib was ready as ever.
“I tell him: ‘Khabib, if you win, I’ll be making conclusions for you and myself.’ He says: ‘What conclusions?’ I tell him: ‘He’s a real championship contender.’ He says: ‘Let him go through me, then he’ll be champion.’
“Then Khabib won via unanimous decision, didn’t give him any chances and then got injured.
“He was out of action for two years. He had four surgeries, then a broken rib. He didn’t perform for more than two years.”
Of course, the UFC record books now show that both men would go on to capture the UFC lightweight title in their careers.
“Dos Anjos became champion, then later Khabib became champion,” he continued.
“It turned out it was a fight between two champions and Khabib had full advantage. They were in their prime.
“After dos Anjos lost his belt, Khabib went from fourth to second place in the rankings. He didn’t even fight for two years. Dos Anjos dominated everyone he fought against and became champion. That’s why I think it’s his best fight.”
Abdulmanap suggested that Khabib’s fight with McGregor was the biggest “in terms of money, hype (and) entertainment,” but also revealed he never believed the Irishman was a serious test for his son when they met at UFC 229.
“McGregor never seemed like a tough opponent to me,” he stated.
“He was a showman.”
By contrast, Abdulmanap also referenced Khabib’s most recent fight, at UFC 242 when he took on Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi and said the American’s approach to the entire fight earned his respect.
“In the last fight, Poirier made us nervous,” he admitted.
“When he hit, when he choked, the way he behaved. He went around the entire arena and came up to greet me. I said he deserves respect.”