Coach: Khabib not training in USA due to COVID-19 concerns
Since his first UFC fight in 2012, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has held all his camps at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. The process has worked well - "The Eagle" has won 12 fights in the league, losing only a single round.
Nurmagomedov will defend his title vs. interim champ Justin Gaethje on October 24 at UFC 254. It's widely believed the event will take place on Fight Island, Yas Island. Abu Dhabi, UAE. During a recent interview with Brett Okamoto for ESPN, AKA founder Javier Mendez said the Dagestan, Russia resident will not be doing his camp in the USA for his latest fight.
"We've got two choices [for the fight], right? Las Vegas or Fight Island,'" said Mendez. "I'm thinking Fight Island, but they haven't said it yet. What I do know is that [COVID-19] is too high in California, and Khabib is not comfortable coming here to train."
"The Eagle" lost his father Abdulmanap to COVID-19 on July 3, 2020.
"I did speak to him for the first time two weeks ago, and he's still going through missing his father. Rightfully so," said the coach. "The way they were connected, his father was pretty much his everything. Having his father's blessing gave him that power to go out and do what he needed to do. Everything his father wanted him to do, Khabib would go out and accomplish it. Now, he doesn't have that. So, he's gotta focus on the legacy his father wanted for him."
Nurmagomedov recently confirmed long-standing rumors that he aims to retire after going 30-0.
"October - Justin, April - GSP," wrote Nurmagomedov on his social network.
"It was discussed on numerous occasions -- 30-0," said Mendez. "And GSP was definitely the legacy fight. If they can complete that, I could see 30-0 and he's done. I can definitely see that. That conversation was brought up numerous times while I was with them."