Justin Gaethje has sent a warm message to his next opponent, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, whose father Abdulmanap passed away this week.
Abdulmanap died in a Moscow hospital this week, succumbing to COVID-19-related complications. There was an immediate outpouring of condolences and well-wishes from many notable members of the MMA community, all of whom recognize the massive influence Abdulmanap had not only on Khabib but many other fighters in Dagestan.
Gaethje is one of the latest to reach out to the lightweight champ.
So heartbreaking to hear this news of the Legend Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. I’m very sorry @TeamKhabib You’re dad passed with a heart full of pride knowing you will carry on his legacy.
— Justin Gaethje 🇺🇸 (@Justin_Gaethje) July 3, 2020
“So heartbreaking to hear this news of the Legend Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov,” Gaethje wrote on Twitter on Friday afternoon. “I’m very sorry @TeamKhabib Your dad passed with a heart full of pride knowing you will carry on his legacy.”
Justin Gaethje, who shares management with Nurmagomedov, became the interim lightweight champion back in May, when he defeated Tony Ferguson by fifth-round stoppage. He has since been linked to a lightweight title unification fight with Nurmagomedov. The bout was reportedly being targeted for UFC 253 in September, but the death of Nurmagomedov’s father casts its status in uncertainty. Time will tell when the undisputed champion will be ready to return to the Octagon.
Prior to his interim-title winning over Ferguson, Gaethje picked up a trio of first-round knockout victories over James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, last fought in September, when he defended his lightweight belt with a submission victory over Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi. The bout marked the first time Abdulmanap was able to serve as a cornerman for his son in the UFC.