Khabib Nurmagomedov raring to go with his father 'improving' in hospital with coronavirus

Fighter's agent says UFC lightweight champion has been motivated by ordeal

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov and and his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov give a press conference in Moscow on November 26, 2018. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)
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UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father is “improving” in hospital, with his son now even more motivated for his own return to action, according to manager Ali Abdelaziz.

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov is currently in a Moscow hospital having undergone a procedure on his heart because of a previous condition, which was then exacerbated by falling ill with Covid-19.

Khabib Nurmagomedov confirmed last month that his father was in critical condition and used the opportunity to urge his fellow residents in Dagestan to adhere to measures put in place because of the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking to ESPN on Tuesday, his manager Abdelaziz reported that Abdulmanap had improved, but that the situation remains serious.

"Khabib is very strong, his family is very strong and his father is very strong," Abdelaziz said. "He's improving. He opened his eyes, responding a little bit - good sign. Allah is in control.

“We have faith he will be better, but at the end of the day, it's completely up to his health whether it progresses or not. But he's progressing, and we're very happy about this."

Khabib Nurmagomedov, 31, has not fought since successfully defending his lightweight title at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi last September.

He is slated to take on interim champion Justin Gaethje this September after the American defeated Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 last month to secure the belt.

Abdelaziz, who also manages Gaethje, said Nurmagomedov has been in training ahead of what promises to be a blockbuster unification bout.

"I think Khabib's father being sick has motivated him more," he said. "He's training every day, two times a day. He's in camp already. Me and him were talking and I said 'Hey, get your mind off, do what you need to do'.

“He's always training. He's a true mixed martial artist. Same with Gaethje. They are both great guys and they want to fight. It's a dream fight."

However, Abdelaziz rejected the idea Nurmagomedov would fight old rival Conor McGregor any time soon. The Irishman has called out both the Russian and Gaethje before surprisingly announcing his retirement on Sunday – the third time he has quit in four years.

Abdelaziz said: "After Gaethje [defeated Ferguson] I told him 'I'm going to be real with you. If you fight [McGregor], you'll probably make a lot more than you're making [to fight Nurmagomedov].'

“He said 'My parents raised me better. The integrity I have to myself, my family and to this sport is worth more than money’.

"But if Justin wins, Justin might fight him. If Khabib wins, he better go down to 145 pounds ... for Khabib to fight Conor again… he doesn't need another $20-$30 million [Dh73.5-Dh110m]. I can't convince him to fight Conor.

“Honestly, right now, I don't think Khabib will give Conor a chance. He's different, man. It's principle first, then after that, it becomes money.

"This guy [McGregor] talked about his father, mother, wife - you want to give [him] another opportunity to do that again? Who would?”