Usman Nurmagomedov called the Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov Memorial Tournament the most important event of his life after beating Svyatoslav Shabanov, earning a second-round knockout and expert feedback from his UFC cousin, Khabib.
After looking impressive again as he extended his perfect professional record to 11 wins in Moscow, lightweight Nurmagomedov was lost for words to describe the significance of the event held in honor of Abdulmanap, Khabib’s father who tragically died in July from complications relating to the coronavirus.
UFC champion Khabib, who was one of Usman’s fellow fighters trained by the revered Russian MMA coach, was in his corner and eager to offer words of advice after he overwhelmed countryman Shabanov with kicks in the build-up to the stoppage.
“What emotions can you have when you win a fight in the most important event of your life?” asked the 23-year-old, nicknamed ‘Killer’. “Right now, I’m euphoric. There are so many cameras, it’s as if you’re pointing AKs at me.”
Despite a dominant performance, Nurmagomedov encountered some difficulty in the first round when his countryman sent him to the ground after connecting with a kick.
Nurmagomedov pledged he would continue to hone his skills as he flies with Khabib and his entourage to Abu Dhabi, where he will help the unbeaten lightweight king prepare for a fight against Justin Gaethje on October 24 that is likely to take place on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi.
“We’ll work on my mistakes there,” he revealed. “He gave me comments on what I’m doing right and wrong. I’ll relax for two or three days then go back to training.
“I have to help the guys get ready. After my last victory we agreed that I would go and help out as a sparring partner.”
His mentor’s words were ringing in his ears when Usman was asked whether he would stay with the Gorilla Fighting Championship or consider other moves, including the possibility of fighting at short notice in Abu Dhabi or on UFC president Dana White’s Contender Series.
“Uncle Abdulmanap didn’t like us fighting on short notice,” he explained, adding that the chance of him not fighting on Yas Island was “100 percent”.
“He said that first we have to do a proper training camp first because you might lose a short-notice fight. I don’t know what the future holds. Right now, I want a coke and a burger.”
Nurmagomedov offered further admiration for Abdulmanap on Instagram, where he published a photo of Khabib speaking to the broadcasters of his fight and said: “I am grateful to him and will always remember his instructions. Now my team is behind me, my brothers.”
His taste for post-fight burgers has still left Nurmagomedov looking noticeably smaller than his cousins, but he quashed talk of a potential move down to featherweight.
“I’m still young at 22,” he pointed out. “I think I’ll gain some weight, so I think I’ll stay at lightweight.”