UFC Vegas 67: Umar Nurmagomedov Addresses Khabib Apparently Leaving MMA

Las Vegas, NV — Eleventh-ranked bantamweight Umar Nurmagomedov (15-0) was in good spirits during Wednesday’s UFC Vegas 67 media day.

“I’m feeling good. Just want to take one more shot, one more win. I hope I will finish him,” Umar told media outlets including Cageside Press ahead of his showdown this Saturday against Raoni Barcelos.

But yes, there is the subject of cousin Khabib Nurmagomedov reportedly leaving MMA altogether. “The Eagle” retired from competition a couple of years ago, and has since been coaching fighters including Umar, while taking on the mantle of promoter with Eagle FC.

Reports have been somewhat unclear about whether Khabib is truly leaving the sport for good, after the UFC Hall of Famer himself spurred rumors via social media posts earlier this month. Umar Nurmagomedov addressed the subject Wednesday, saying simply that “this guy’s my brother, and with me, he cannot go away almost.” The Dagestani bantamweight added that “I was calling him, talking with him about this fight, about cutting weight.”

Nurmagomedov seemed to suggest the travel was simply too much for Khabib, who has suggested he wanted to spend more time with family, specifically his mother.

“When we go to home, I will go to him, say to him ‘hey let’s go to training.’ But even [so] this guy is all the time training. He cannot stop.”

Later, Umar would clarify that he hadn’t actually spoken to Khabib about the decision. “I have to be focused about my fight. But when I come home, I will talk with him.”

Already a ranked 135lb’er after just three UFC fights, the undefeated Nurmagomedov believes he’s ready to be champ.

“I’m ready for [when I] will be champion. I’m really ready for anybody in this world. Doesn’t matter which organization’s champion. I’m ready,” he stated. “I was training with very very tough guys, and they didn’t do nothing, you understand? And I think I’m ready.”

A possible time frame, he later added, would be 2024, and landing in the number one contender’s spot by the end of 2023. As for calling out specific opponents, Nurmagomedov, who hopes to fight three or four times in 2023, says he’s been down that road.

“I try, I tried to call guys [out], but nobody don’t wanna take this fight with me. I talk with Sean Shelby, I was taking with him and he said ‘hey, I can’t find fight for you,'” Nurmagomedov recalled. “When they asked me [if I would] fight with Barcelos, I said ‘yes. I don’t care with who.’ Even if somebody will be doing their debut, I will fight. I want to be active.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 67 media day appearance by Umar Nurmagomedov above.