Khabib Nurmagomedov names two people close to him, Cain Velasquez and Javier Mendez, and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, as deserving of spots in the UFC Hall of Fame
As part of the UFC‘s International Fight Week, the MMA community celebrates those who have made a tremendous impact on the sport inside and outside of the cage.
This year’s headliner was the former undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who finished his professional MMA career a perfect 29-0, capping it off with a win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
Nurmagomedov feels the biggest catalyst toward his success was his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, and all the sacrifice and dedication he had in supporting his son.
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away from COVID-19 complications in 2020. Khabib Nurmagomedov retired from the cage to fulfill a promise he made to his mother that he would not continue his career without his father by his side.
“Very big honor. I feel like all my hard work’s paid off,” Nurmagomedov said at the red carpet show prior to the Hall of Fame. “I’m from a very poor life. I remember 23 years ago, how my father sold his house, and he brought me and all my brothers, and we moved to the capital city because [there] really was not too much opportunity.
“We move to [the] capital city, and we’re all living together in one house. Stayed there, eat, sleep, training, sleep, repeat, go to the school…it was like army life. I’m very happy now, and now I realize how my father’s vision was very hard. He invested in people.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov reasons why Cain Velasquez, Frankie Edgar and Javier Mendez all should have UFC Hall of Fame spots
Even though he retired from the cage, Nurmagomedov continues to pursue the same vision as his father through coaching and mentoring. Nurmagomedov can be found in the corner of the likes of his cousin, Umar Nurmagomedov, as well as rising lightweight contender Islam Makhachev.
The UFC’s Hall of Fame Class of 2022 also included Nurmagomedov’s teammate at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), Daniel Cormier, the Cub Swanson vs. Doo-Ho Choi fight from UFC 206 and Forrest Griffin Community Award winner Giga Chikadze. Max Holloway was also honored for his 2021 Forrest Griffin Community Award.
When asked who he thinks deserves to one day join him in the UFC Hall of Fame, Nurmagomedov listed three names: Cain Velasquez, Frankie Edgar and Javier Mendez.
Velasquez is another teammate of Nurmagomedov and Cormier’s who twice reigned as UFC heavyweight champion. He is currently in jail on a highly publicized and controversial attempted murder charge. All three men trained under Mendez at AKA.
Edgar is a legendary former UFC lightweight champion who reigned from 2010 to 2012.
“I think, 100 percent, it has to be Cain Velasquez,” Nurmagomedov said. “It’s not fair [he’s in jail.] Cain Velasquez deserves this.
“Frankie Edgar deserves this. He was very small. And he fought in the lightweight division with all these monsters like Benson Henderson, Gray Maynard. Those guys were very huge, and other top lightweights, and he beat all of them and was champion.”
“I think Coach Javier, and I’m going to tell you why. [Between] 2010 and 2020, 10 years, this man had someone [as UFC] champion in his gym. It was Cain, it was DC, it was Luke [Rockhold], it was me.”
UFC 276: Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier takes place on Saturday, July 2, 2022, live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided MMA, who is on-site, for all your news and highlights.