Khabib Nurmagomedov’s coach Javier Mendez has said the lightweight champion will not train in California for his upcoming title fight against Justin Gaethje.
Nurmagomedov (28-0) will fight interim champion Gaethje at UFC 254 on October 24th. Due to the high amount of cases of COVID-19 in California, Mendez said Khabib would rather train in his native Dagestan for the fight with Gaethje.
“We’ve got two choices [for the fight], right? Las Vegas or Fight Island,’” Mendez told ESPN. “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. So I’m gonna go to Dagestan to train him and we’ll go from there. . . Where the fight is gonna be, 100 percent, I don’t know but I know this, I’m going to him. That I do know. I’m going to train him in Dagestan or wherever he chooses to go, but we’re not training in San Jose.”
Last month Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, sadly passed away after a long battle with the coronavirus. Khabib’s fight with Gaethje will be his first since the death of his father. Mendez said Khabib is understandably still grieving due to the loss and should continue to fight for the legacy his father wanted for him.
“I did speak to him for the first time about two weeks ago, and he’s still going through missing his father,” Mendez said. “Rightfully so. 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 and live through that. Do something great for the legacy of your father.”