Tukhchar to Makhachkala is a 63-mile distance, not far at all. In 1999 when Khabib was age 11 Tukhchar was invaded by Chechen Islamic extremists who took over the village, murdering those there that protested, they took the law and military enforcement into a field and lay the soldiers juxtaposition to each other and beheaded them, that way they could watch their friends die. After this was done, they kicked the severed heads of the Dagestani’s around. When Conor mentioned Khabib and Zubraia’s friendship as a betrayal to the people of Dagestan when Conor said he’s a snake for being photographed with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (a refusal to do so would be signing your own death certificate as Kadyrov has had people assassinated for less). People talk about Khabib and the bears, but never how he grew up in Dagestan during the War, when the Chechen’s were brutally murdering, torturing and decapitating civilians, people he may have known. That’s why you don’t disrespect those Dagestan fighters, they’ll go to the death.
Dagestan is the land in which warriors are created. The best fighters in the World come from the North Caucasus region, with a population as small as 2.9 million its really is incredible the number of elite-level fighters that they managed to produce. Manufacturing the perfect fighting machines, it is no surprise the level of skill that their athletes possess, being a land, which has found itself in many combative situations, fighting in Dagestan isn’t just a hobby, it is a way of life. Dagestan and Chechnya haven’t been able to secure independence from Russia for some 200 years, the reason why violence has ensued is due to the desire to be a separate state, plus the state being predominantly Russian Orthodox with only an estimated 6.5% population following Islam it is easy to see why religion is such a hot topic between the two countries. Many people in countries like Dagestan and Chechnya find themselves in hardship, caught between a struggle of nationalism, many during these times turn to fight.
Dagestan, in particular, has found amazing success in competitive fighting, dominating in sports such as Sambo, MMA, Judo and Wrestling, they produce the most elite level of fighters in the World. It’s telling when considering they have produced Olympic Gold Medallists in Wrestling and Judo and are producing an unheralded amount of Mixed Martial Arts talent out of their land. The most dominant athlete from the Caucasus most likely being 23-year-old Freestyle wrestler Abdulrashid Sadulaev, winning Olympic Gold and numerous World championships, in the senior career he only lost to one man, the US Olympic Gold Medallist Kyle Snyder in a close points loss (6-5). Sadulaev also took Olympic Gold at the 2016 Games but in the weight class lower than Snyder, so when they fought and Snyder won, there was a lot on the line, particularly bragging rights between the young wrestling prodigies. They met again in 2018, this time with the Dagestani pinning the American in just over a minute, ending any discussion to who is truly the most dominant wrestler of this generation, with Sadulaev looking like he’s on his way to find similar success to that of Satiev or Medved. The country produces some of the most elite grapplers in the World and the most famous countryman of Dagestan always shows this, being the best grappler in MMA currently and possibly ever. That man’s name is Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Known for his relentless wrestling pressure and unorthodox striking the Dagestani is one of the most dominant fighters in the history of the sport, MMA unlike boxing doesn’t have much time for building up its fighters the way that Boxing attempts to do, of course there are the odd occasions this happens such as with Bellator building up Michael Page and Dillon Danis, however this method is panned in MMA due to the fact that if they need to be babied opponents then perhaps they shouldn’t be signed to one of the premiere organisations in MMA. With the Dagestani native training between Dagestan and the US (at the renowned American Kickboxing Academy) under the tutelage of coach Javier Mendez with the Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. Defeating notable Lightweights in the UFC such as Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza and Michael Johnson he was prepared to fight Tony Ferguson in a battle to determine the greatest Lightweight of all time at UFC 223 and to see which man was the best of the best, the winner truly being Champion of the World. Shortly before the fight though Ferguson got injured, this was the least problematic situation of that week though. Earlier that week Khabib confronted stripped champion Conor McGregor‘s teammate Artem Lobov with his team and slapped Lobov across the face for a previous disrespectful statement uttered by Lobov referring to Khabib as a “chicken” and that he wasn’t a real champion as he always pulled out of fights with an injury. What followed was an attack by Conor McGregor with many of his SBG teammates, attacking a bus that Khabib was on. Smashing the windows with a posse of men in an attempt to get to the Dagestani native, chaos ensued when the buses were smashed, injuring fighters like Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg. Conor went on the run before being turning himself into the New York Police Department.
Ferguson recovered and was ready to fight, despite his impressive win streak, he was booked against former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis. With all the hype surrounding the event, there was only one possible match to make, the biggest fight in the history of the UFC, Conor McGregor Vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov. The biggest question surrounding Conor’s whole accomplished and flamboyant career was how would he deal with an elite wrestler, he answered that question at UFC 189 with his (T)KO victory over Chad Mendes for the Interim Featherweight Championship. However, Mendes is nowhere near the wrestling level of Khabib and the Dagestani entered the bout in a situation unfamiliar with the Irishman, he was actually the smaller man in this fight, people questioned if Khabib could take power shots, ones that the Irishman could clearly deliver and people questioned whether or not Conor could deal with the Dagestani’s wrestling pressure and submission threats, the stage was set: UFC 229.
The bout was everything you’d expect it to be, with fans on the edge of their seats as Conor McGregor walked out to try and win the title off of Khabib Nurmagomedov, the one Khabib won off of Al Iaquinta in a fight for the vacant Lightweight Championship at UFC 223. The fightwas anything but competitive as Khabib battered the Irishman on the ground with devastating ground and pound after being able to secure the takedown time and time again throughout the contest. Even in places where McGregor should’ve been comfortable he was losing, even getting clipped with an overhand and dropping him. As the violence unfolded on McGregor it was audible that Khabib was saying to him “You wanted to talk, let’s talk” as he unloaded onto Conor, in the fight it sounded like Conor said “It’s only business”, however the Irishman has denied this, the Dagestani confirms that he said it however. By round four, McGregor exposed his back and the Dagestani submitted him with a neck crank. Afterwards Khabib vaulted the cage and attacked Dillon Danis, the Jiu Jitsu training partner of Conor McGregor. During the scuffle outside of the Octagon, McGregor struck one of Khabib’s teammates before scuffling with two of them inside the cage as people clamoured to separate everyone from the violence that had just ensued.
Upon returning home to Dagestan, Khabib Nurmagomedov received a hero’s welcome from his people for defending the title against Conor McGregor and for defending his country’s honour.
For a long time (even now after the fight) Conor McGregor trashed Khabib for his country, his friends and his religious beliefs. Khabib is battle tested. The man wrestled cub bears as a child, he is moulded from something different, disrespect for business is not allowed.
It is never business for him, fighting, it’s personal.