When Khabib Nurmagomedov landed in the Uytash Airport in Makhachkala, Dagestan, he was greeted by approximately two thousand local fans, who braved the cold weather to give him a hero’s welcome upon arrival.
Nurmagomedov, who defeated Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision to claim the UFC lightweight title, emerged from the plan to a roaring ovation and a troops of dancers performing traditional folk dances on the tarmac. Khabib’s father and longtime coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, also joined the celebration and gave a speech in honour of his son’s achievement. The UFC champ also addressed the crowd in attendance, where he thanked them for their support. The entire gathering was streamed live on RT.
While the airport celebration emphasized Khabib’s popularity in his native land, his popularity was not limited to sports fans. Khabib was also greeted by Chairman of the People’s Assembly of Dagestan, Saigidahmed Akhmedov, as well as the interim minister for physical culture and sports in Dagestan, Magomed Magomedov. Later, Vladimir Vasiliev, the acting head of the Republic of Dagestan, congratulated Khabib in a written statement shortly following his championship win at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York.
“Dear Khabib Abdulmanapovich, I congratulate you on your victory in one of the most prestigious promotions of MMA. You entered your name in the history of Russian sports as the first athlete to become champion of the UFC. Your native Dagestan and all Russia are proud of you.
“This award is the highest in the mixed martial arts industry. I know that was your goal for many years, remaining undefeated fighter this entire time. Hard work, patience and diligence brought you the desired result. Once again, I want to congratulate you, Khabib, and all Russians with this truly significant victory!”
It was also reported that Said Abdulaev, the general director of FC Anzhi Makhachkala, planned to give Khabib a “gift” in honour of his UFC 223 title win and invited him to attend their upcoming league match against FC Ural.
“We have always been in contact with Khabib,” said Abdulaev. “He is our fan. We meet very often and sometimes he participates in team events. We are very pleased that he won the UFC Championship. We are proud of him. When he will be in Makhachkala, we will definitely meet and congratulate him.
“We will invite him to the match with Ural on April 21, so that he can strike the first [ceremonial] kick of the ball.”
Khabib’s title win has also led to some interesting social media posts, including an Instagram video showing a man block traffic with his car on a street in Dagestan and dance in celebration of Khabib’s victory.