Conor McGregor vs Khabib: The five things you need to know about the reigning UFC lightweight champion

The unbeaten Russian became champion by outpointing late replacement Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in April

Tuesday 02 October 2018 10:34
McGregor tells Khabib to smash him if he can

Khabib Nurmagomedov makes the first defence of his UFC lightweight title against Conor McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this weekend.

The unbeaten Russian became champion by outpointing late replacement Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in April, just a few days after it was announced McGregor would be relieved of the belt because of inactivity.

The 30-year-old boasts a flawless professional record and is one of the most feared men in the sport.

Here, we take a look at five things you may not know about the 30-year-old Dagestani ahead of UFC 229.

Distinctive headwear

Nurmagomedov distinguishes himself by donning a sizeable woolly hat when he weighs in as well as immediately before and after his bouts. The item of clothing is known as a papakha (pronounced puh-pah-hah) and is traditionally worn by men throughout the Caucasus. Nurmagomedov's particular brand is seemingly in tribute to his Avar roots and is made of shaggy sheep's skin and wool, then adjusted with a basic rope.

Best of enemies

Almost four years ago to the day, Nurmagomedov paid tribute to McGregor after the Irishman dispatched Dustin Poirier to move one step closer to the UFC featherweight title. The respect between both fighters was quite evident here but that has given way to outright hostility in the intervening years as they have become rivals. The enmity took on a personal edge in April following McGregor's bus attack in apparent response to his friend Artem Lobov's confrontation with Nurmagomedov.

Khabib is fierce rivals with Conor McGregor

Streak and records

The UFC's first Russian-born champion will be bidding to extend the longest unbeaten streak in mixed martial arts against McGregor, having defeated all 26 of his previous opponents - 10 by decision and eight knockouts and stoppages apiece. Nurmagomedov also holds the UFC record for number of takedowns in a single fight, managing to bring Abel Trujillo to the mat on 21 occasions out of 27 attempts in their three-round contest in May 2013.


Nurmagomedov has built up quite a following on social media and Instagram, in particular. He is quite prolific on the platform with more than 3,000 posts and has amassed six million followers, with only McGregor boasting a greater number among UFC fighters. Many of Nurmagomedov's updates centre on the day job, his training habits and his Muslim faith.

Real football fan

Real Madrid fan Nurmagomedov was invited to attend the Spanish giants' LaLiga fixture against Real Sociedad in February. Real ran out 5-2 winners thanks to a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed his jersey and presented the shirt and a ball to Nurmagomedov. In return, Nurmagomedov gave the Portuguese talisman, now at Juventus, one of his papakha hats. Nurmagomedov also supports Anzhi Makhachkala in the Russian Premier League.

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