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Coach: Khabib ‘misses’ fighting, would only return on one condition

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Coach Javier Mendez says Khabib Nurmagomedov misses training and fighting, but needs one condition met if he is ever to return to the sport.

UFC 249 Khabib Nurmagomedov Tony Ferguson Javier Mendez Justin Gaethje Conor McGregor Dana White MMA News Video Shakiel Mahjouri
Khabib Nurmagomedov poses with coach Javier Mendez of American Kickboxing Academy following his victory over Edson Barboza at UFC 219.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former UFC lightweight champion and pound-for-pound No. 1 Khabib Nurmagomedov has only been retired for eight months but is already missing the adrenaline rush of fighting.

That’s according to Khabib’s longtime coach and mentor, Javier Mendez, who claims that Nurmagomedov is struggling to adjust to normal life outside of the Octagon.

Mendez shares a special bond with Khabib and hinted that his prized student wants to come out of retirement but would first need his mother’s blessing. ‘The Eagle’ promised his family that he would never fight again following the tragic passing of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, last year.

“I guess you could say he wants to fight again - but absolutely not because his mother would have to give him permission before any of that. I mean, he misses training, he misses coaching,” Mendez told Betway Insider in a recent interview. I took it as he misses being around me and coaching. Our relationship is more than fighting, that goes beyond fighting. It’s not a relationship like: ‘Okay I’m done with my career, you know, my coach and I were just distant friends.’ No. We’re family, we grew with each other. They’re family to me and we’ll be in each other’s lives for the rest of our lives.”

“Yeah it would be unnatural,” Mendez said of Khabib’s life outside of fighting. “He loves the fighting, the energy, and he loves watching his cousins and his teammates perform. He gets nervous for them. You know, when we went to the last fight and his cousin Abubakar was to fight, he just got all energised and he said ‘I miss this feeling’. And it’s a feeling that he’s gonna miss for a while because of that adrenaline you get from entering that octagon with all those people cheering you on. It’s hard to replace that in normal life because normal life is not like that.”

Mendez hasn’t asked Nurmagomedov outright about his intentions but said the undefeated Dagestani would have to make up his mind within the next year if he does want to return to the UFC.

“I don’t talk to him about if he’s tempted to get back in, so I don’t know,” he said. “What I do know is his mother’s bond and his mother’s wishes are extremely important to him and if he did ever decide, it would have to be his mother and him talking, and his mother would have to give him her blessing. Even if he wanted to fight, it’s never gonna happen. He will not disobey his mother, he will not. That’s just who he is.”

“I can say this comfortably, that after two years out of the octagon, there will definitely be no comeback. Before that, when he’s feeling young and he’s in his prime, I’m gonna say I don’t know. I’d definitely say that when he’s past his prime, definitely not because he’s not going to compete when he’s not able to compete. But I can honestly say that if he’s still in his prime, there’s always the possibility that he and his mother could talk. I can say that.

“I wouldn’t bet against it, but I know there is a possible situation that I could see. If there was something that would bring him back, it’s him still being in his prime and him and his mother talking.”

Nurmagomedov retired undefeated, at 29-0, with wins over Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier. He is widely considered one, if not the, greatest fighters of all time.