UFC 280 gave the rest of the mainstream MMA world a look at Khabib Nurmagomedov, the coach. “The Eagle” went 3-0 with his fighters over the weekend, beginning with his cousin Abubakar, Belal Muhammad, and of course, Islam Makhachev who ended up winning the vacant lightweight title.
Khabib’s impressive coaching run was certainly noticed by other top-tier fighters.
Muhammad, who defeated the touted Sean Brady via TKO to close out the prelims, got the chance to speak with ESPN to provide some insight on how training camp went under Khabib’s supervision.
“This guy doesn’t understand tired. We’re going from sparring to grappling, and then he tells me ‘Come in the cage’ and he’s putting me on the fence and taking me down at will and just, like, drowning me,” he told Marc Raimondi.
“I’m sitting there dead and all of a sudden at the end of it, they’re like, ‘Well, OK, you got three minutes of planks.’ I’m sitting there, dripping, I look to my right and I see Islam there. He tells me, ‘Khabib does not know tired.’
“There needs to be some rest in between because the practices are so hard that my body ended up breaking down halfway through.”
Muhammad went on to compare Khabib with another legendary sports figure, because of his ability to bring the best out of the fighters he trains.
“He demands greatness from you. I just watched (The Redeem Team) and how Kobe Bryant would go to the gym at 4 AM and it made the other guys work that much harder.
“Khabib is the same way where you want to do extra for him. You want to push yourself much harder for him because he doesn’t have to be there. He’s got all the money in the world, he’s got all the accolades in the world, he’s been a champion.
“He’s accomplished it all, but he’s giving you his time, his knowledge. Even when we’d do warm-ups and he’d tell us, ‘You guys aren’t pushing hard enough. What are you guys doing? You gotta do it again.’ So we have to go again.
“There’ll be some guys that’ll come in tired, and he’ll take their phone from them at night, and he’ll be like, ‘You need to go to sleep on time.’”
Muhammad, who improved his record to 22-3 (1 NC) after UFC 280, also took home a $50K bonus for Performance of the Night.