Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Khabib Names The Only 3 Fights He’s Woken Up To Watch In 2022

Some people watch UFC fights religiously, while others tune in for the pay-per-view events. Surprisingly, former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov falls closer to the latter category — keeping his 2022 tally in single digits.

Following his victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in 2020, which marked his third consecutive title defense and extended his perfect professional record to 29-0, Khabib chose to hang up his gloves.

Since exiting MMA as an active competitor on top, which very few choose to do, “The Eagle” has maintained a presence in the sport through his mentorship of the next generation at the American Kickboxing Academy and in his native Dagestan.

His most notable protégé, Islam Makhachev, is set to challenge for the 155-pound gold at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi next weekend. The event’s headliner will mark one of many coaching assignments for Khabib on the night.

Given his continuing involvement in the sport in a coaching capacity, not to mention his ownership of an MMA organization, you’d be forgiven for presuming that Khabib still has a passion for watching the sport.

As it turns out, that’s far from the case.

Khabib: ‘I Don’t Wake Up Early For Fights Anymore’

During a recent sit-down interview with UFC Russia, Khabib noted that “the flame” inside of him has somewhat gone out in regards to MMA. He also suggested that the sport of mixed martial arts has been declining in recent times.

The former champion later cited the decreasing frequency with which he wakes up to catch UFC events as evidence. After noting that he rarely tunes in live, “The Eagle” did list a few bouts he set the alarm for, starting with one of his fellow Dominance MMA-managed figures.

“I don’t wake up early to watch fights anymore. Kamaru Usman, I was very interested in his fight. I don’t know why, but I really wanted him to beat that record,” Khabib said. “I wanted him to beat Anderson Silva’s record. Perhaps it’s because I have good relations with him. I wanted him to beat that record really badly. But what happened happened.”

“Other than that, I don’t wake up for those fights. I woke up for Usman’s fight. When you want to watch it, you wake up for it,” Khabib added.

Unfortunately for the Russian, Leon Edwards made it a rough morning for him by knocking Usman out late in the fifth round of the UFC 278 headliner.

As well as the two welterweights’ rematch in August, Khabib also made sure to catch another pair of title fights earlier in the year, one of which he had a national interest in.

“Other than that, I think I woke up for 1 or 2 fights this year. What were some good fights? This year, wasn’t it (Francis) Ngannou vs. (Ciryl) Gane? I woke up for that one,” Khabib confirmed. “There was another, Petr Yan. Petr Yan vs. (Aljamain) Sterling. I couldn’t have missed it. I was really interested in it.”

Once again, Khabib likely saw the fighter he was backing fall to defeat at UFC 273, with fellow Russian Yan getting outpointed across five rounds by bantamweight champion Sterling. Hopefully he was on the side of Ngannou, who defeated Gane on the scorecards at UFC 270 in January, to avoid an 0-3 support skid for the fights he awoke for.

Khabib did note that he’d have risen early to catch the UFC Vegas 57 main event between rising lightweight contenders Mateusz Gamrot and Arman Tsarukyan in June, but he was fortunate enough to be on US soil and inside the Apex for the memorable five-rounder.

“Mateusz Gamrot vs. Arman Tsarukyan. I would’ve woken up for it, but I watched it live. I would’ve definitely woken up for it. I was fortunate enough to watch it live,” Khabib said.

As far as the rest of the year goes? Well, it looks like the lightweight great may well stretch his tally to four for early morning fight-induced wake-ups courtesy of the UFC 281 title clash between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira.

“I’ll wake up for Adesanya vs. Pereira. That’ll be interesting.”

So, if you’re looking for some analysis on the state of UFC divisions right now, best avoid asking “The Eagle”…

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