Earlier this year, former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov shocked the mixed martial arts community by seemingly announcing his departure from the sport entirely.
The news came a few years on from the Dagestani’s retirement as a competitor following his successful title defense against Justin Gaethje in 2019.
Having found success inside the cage, amassing a perfect 29-0 professional record that has left him in many people’s GOAT discussions, “The Eagle” later showed his talents as a coach in the gym and corner.
But just months after helping guide his protégé Islam Makhachev to title glory at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, Khabib Nurmagomedov seemingly hung up his metaphorical mentoring gloves, citing his desire to spend more time with his family.
Months removed from that announcement, American Kickboxing Academy coach Javier Mendez has sought to clarify Khabib’s stance after the former UFC star’s recent return to his facility.
Javier Mendez: Khabib Nurmagomedov Never Said He Wouldn’t Coach
In an interview with The Schmo, Mendez mentioned that Khabib has been back at the gym to help his cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov prepare for his upcoming contest against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos this weekend at UFC Vegas 74.
After noting that “The Eagle” won’t be making a return to the corner for Saturday’s event, Mendez attempted to set the record straight on Khabib’s current position and attitude towards his involvement in the sport.
“One thing people don’t understand is he never said he wouldn’t coach people,” Mendez said. “He said he’s not gonna be in the corner and travel to fight camps because he’s spending time with his family. He never said he wouldn’t come and visit here and there, and train the guys. He never said none of that. He’s still holding to everything he’s ever said.”
If Mendez had his way, however, the former UFC lightweight kingpin would be firmly back into the mix on a regular basis.
“He never said never either, so I’m hoping at some point he can come back and help me because him being in the corner is such a huge motivator for the guys and me,” Mendez explained. “Then my job’s easier. I don’t have to worry about hardly anything. I just sit in the backseat and let him drive because he’s a hell of a driver.”
Abubakar will hope to be the beneficiary of Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s visit by utilizing his help to secure a third straight victory inside the Octagon on June 3.
With the likes of Makhachev and Umar Nurmagomedov expected to return to action later this year, it remains to be seen whether they’ll also enjoy Khabib’s presence during their respective camps.