Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has thrown his support behind the UAE national jiu-jitsu team as they get set for the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship, which begins on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.
The national team have been training in a closed camp for the November 3-11 event, staged at the capital’s Jiu Jitsu Arena. The tournament provides a final opportunity to qualify for next year’s World Games in the United States. The UAE go into the event in fine form having topped the medal table at the recent Asian Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
Nurmagomedov, now a coach, is in Abu Dhabi and helped three of his teammates to wins at UFC 267 this past weekend.
The Dagestan native said: “I wish good luck for the UAE national team at the World Championship. Let’s go guys, I am with you,” before jokingly adding his trademark “smash everyone”.
Nurmagomedov, 33, retired undefeated as the UFC lightweight champion following his victory against Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi in October last year. With a professional mixed martial arts record of 29-0, he is regarded as one of the great UFC athletes of all time.
A regular visitor to the Emirates, Nurmagomedov has plans to open his own gym in Abu Dhabi early next year, while last week he offered his backing once more to local MMA promotion UAE Warriors.
“Good luck to everybody doing jiu-jitsu in the UAE,” he said. “It is great for you and for the next generation. The youngsters are the future and I see them being even better, a completely different generation because they will benefit from what is happening now with the sport in the UAE. It will have a positive impact on them, physically and mentally.”
At the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship, the UAE national team will be represented by 58 athletes in the men's category and 53 in the women’s bracket. The categories range from adult to Under-16s.