Upon his arrival in New York, Khabib Nurmagomedov immediately took a few hours out of his day to visit Dagestani heavyweight boxer Magomed Abdusalamov. Accompanied by his Caucasus-based AKA teammates like Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov, Khabib was determined to pay his respect to the severely injured fighter now limited to a gurney in his own home.
“All the time when I come to New York, I visit [Abdusalamov],” Khabib told Jim Genia at Wednesday’s media scrum. “We lived very close in the capital city of Dagestan. I know him well. I was a small kid. We trained together for a couple of years. I knew him [a] long, long time ago. That is why when I come to New York, I visit him.”
Back in 2013, the Dagestani heavyweight boxer had compiled an 18-0 record and amassed various Russian titles en route to his match-up against Mike Perez. Though most of the heavyweight's wins took place via technical knockout within the first five rounds, he was pushed to a ten round decision loss against Perez, where he suffered significant brain damage during the contest.
The effects of the vicious beating Abdusalamov received that night were visible during the fight and in its immediate aftermath. He was eventually taken to hospital by his team, where a small blood clot was discovered. He was placed in a medically induced coma, though suffered a stroke thereafter that left him with permanent brain damage and paralysis. New York Office of the Inspector General released a 50-page investigative report in 2016 that revealed how the New York State Athletic Commission's complete incompetence and mishandling of the situation placed a part in Abdusalamov's career-ending injury.
Given the New York State Athletic Commission's incompetence in the handling of that near-fatal boxing match several years ago, new insurance requirements for promoters will likely keep all but the big organizations out of NYC.
As for Khabib, who is scheduled to compete on Saturday night in the same state that sacrificed Abdusalamov’s wellbeing, his fate is in “god’s hands.”
“I think about this a little bit. If God wants, then anything can happen. Nobody knows what will happen in the next minute.”