UFC legend Oleg Taktarov made headlines this week after voicing some derogatory and Islamophobic statements during a Q&A session on social media.
“I can tell you a story. First champion Royce Gracie. Then he won again. The third championship was won by Steve Jennum, because everyone was injured. The fourth championship Royce Gracie who strangled Dan Severn. Then Dan Severn won the fifth championship. There were three champions. The sixth championship I won. Where do you see someone else? This is the year 1995. This is a story - how can you rewrite it? How can you remake it? Let’s say that it was not Royce Gracie who won the first two and fourth championships, but your fighter whom you want to enter.
“If one Wahhabi from the Tsumadinsky district said this, why should all fools repeat this? He himself doesn’t repeat it already, and you repeat everything like monkeys after him.”
While Taktarov does not name Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father, Abdulmanap, by name, it appears he is referring to the renowned coach when citing the “Wahabi” because it was Abdulmanap who previously claimed that Taktarov was not technically a UFC champion. Abdulmanap and his son Khabib are also natives of the Tsumadinsky district in Dagestan, which is the area referenced by Taktarov during his social media rant.
Though Taktarov is technically not a UFC champion, he did win the UFC 6 tournament prior to titles being instated. Over the years, he has been vocal about his place in UFC history.
”To become UFC 6 Champion I had to (take part in) three fights in one evening,” Taktarov told sports.ru. “Just imagine that you have to win in 1st fight, then second, and save power to stand in the last one. And the weight difference could be incredible between fighters. I might come to the cage at 90kg and the opponent at 120kg. Recently, I read some “expert” who said that ‘Oleg Taktarov wasn’t a real UFC Champion.’
”What does the UFC mean? The Ultimate Fighting Championship; the winner of Championship is the champion. Later they started to hold “super-fights” and there would be super-fight champions. The real championships ended in 90s. One fight is just one fight now.”
Matters took a turn for the worse when Khabib became UFC lightweight champion. Taktarov began making racist statements, such as calling Nurmagomedov a “typical mountain man” with “cautious genes” in reference to his “boring” fight with Conor McGregor.
“When a strong army comes - they hide in the mountains, everyone disappears somewhere,” Taktarov said of Khabib, referencing the centuries of warfare between the Caucasus and the Russian Empire.
In response to Taktarov’s racist comments, Khabib and his father invited the UFC tournament winner to visit Dagestan and spend a few days in their company. Taktarov accepted the offer, though his goodwill towards the Nurmagomedov family did not last long. He later complained about his stay in Dagestan and questioned Khabib’s priorities since becoming champion. This prompted Abdulmanap to ask Khabib’s fans not to target Taktarov on Instagram.
“You can’t answer an insult to a fool,” Abdulmanap said at the time. “He is a fool, after all.”