Khabib Nurmagomedov was recently asked by a journalist from the Russian publication URA.ru whether he represents the Russian republic of Dagestan, or the wider country of Russia as a whole. The UFC lightweight champion, who proudly represents his Dagestani heritage, but also identifies as a Russian, did not appreciate the question, retorting that he felt that the journalist was trying to spark division in the country.
“I always do (represent Russia),” the champion said (translation via RT Sport). “There is always a Russian flag on the screen. Everyone in the States, who doesn’t know what Dagestan, Chechnya or Caucasus is, calls me Russian.”
“And all the foreign fighters, in case you didn’t notice, are calling me Russian,” he added. “So for them, we are one nation, for them we are the same people. It’s important for our own people not to divide (us). For people like you are. And not to ask me such stupid questions.”
“Abroad, no one is dividing us,” he concluded. “Inside (of the country) there are people who divide us and want us to be disjointed. So please change the subject and let’s talk sports, not politics.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov last fought at UFC 229 on October 6, when he defeated former champion Conor McGregor by submission in the fourth round, defending the lightweight strap in the process.
Shortly after this victory, Nurmagomedov leapt over the side of the cage and attacked McGregor’s teammate Dillon Danis. At the same time, McGregor swapped punches with a pair of Nurmagomedov’s training partners inside the cage. The parties involved in this chaotic post-fight skirmish are currently awaiting discipline from the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). Sentencing is likely to be handed down in late January.
With his win over McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov improved to a fantastic 27-0 overall, easily one of the best records in MMA.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/19/2018.