Khabib Nurmagomedov has penned a heartfelt tribute to his long-time head coach at American Kickboxing Academy, Javier Mendez.
Nurmagomedov returned to the cage in the main event of UFC 254 last Saturday on Fight Island, where he picked up a submission victory over Justin Gaethje and defended the UFC lightweight title in the process. Post-fight, he announced his retirement from MMA.
On Wednesday, Nurmagomedov took to Instagram to express his gratitude to Mendez, who has been one of the most influential figures in his career.
“Our connection will forever be fixed in my heart coach, you was a great inspiration for me always, since the first days I came to AKA,” Nurmagomedov wrote. “Love you coach.”
The feeling, unsurprisingly, is mutual. Earlier this week, Mendez posted his own tribute to Nurmagomedov.
View this post on Instagram
You came into my life in 2012🦅 now your in my life for life ❤️🦅❤️ a Coach & a fighter’s relationship only a Coach and the fighter can really understand. But Love,Respect & True Loyalty The whole World understands and @khabib_nurmagomedov you are all of that and more❤️❤️❤️#weareaka/eaglesfamily #trueloyalty
“You came into my life in 2012, now your in my life for life,” Mendez wrote. “[A] coach and a fighter’s relationship, only a coach and the fighter can really understand. But love, respect and true loyalty, the whole world understands and [Khabib Nurmagomedov] you are all of that and more.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov hangs up the gloves with a flawless, 29-0 record. It’s one of the best records in MMA history, if not the best outright. Highlights of his perfect record include triumphs over high-level talents in Gleison Tibau, Thiago Tavares, Abel Trujillo, Pat Healy, Rafael dos Anjos, Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza, Al Iaquinta, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje.
What do you think of this heartfelt exchange between Nurmagomedov and his coach?