Khabib Nurmagomedov has a lot of reasons to feel pressure this Saturday when he defends his lightweight championship against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242:his undefeated streak being on the line, an arena that is expected to be jam-packed with supporters, and running the risk of losing the title he’s worked for his entire life; but there is one factor in particular that, perhaps above all else, motives Khabib to leave Abu Dhabi with the lightweight championship. It is the same factor that made him a fighter in the first place: his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who will be cornering Khabib for the first time in the UFC at the pay per view.
Khabib has been lobbying for Abdulmanap to be granted a US visa for the purpose of cornering him in the UFC, so as expected, he will be happy to see his father in his corner Saturday night:
“This is very important for me, you know?” Khabib said on a recent UFC 242 conference call. “Family, my father, is going to be corner with me. I’m very excited about this. I feel how my father excited about this. It’s gonna be great, great night for us, my father, and Coach Javier….very good night…two great coaches, and I think with these two guys, I have to win, inshallah. This is very important.”
As the champion’s rhetoric suggests, this necessity to win stems from the champion not wanting to disappoint the individual closest to him:
“Yeah, a little bit pressure,” Khabib confessed of his mindset ahead of UFC 242. “I feel good energy; at the same time, I feel pressure. And father all the time give me good energy. Because he’s not only my coach; he’s my father, first of all. I feel a little bit pressure. And at the same time, I feel great energy. And we’ll see. We’ll see. If I say I don’t feel pressure, it’s not true. Of course I feel pressure. I don’t want to make upset my father, first time he’s going to be cornering me…”
Do you believe the pressure Khabib feels ahead of UFC 242 will work as a detriment or as a source of empowerment when he competes against Dustin Poirier?