BOTLIKH, September 12. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he planned to personally meet with UFC Reigning Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and congratulate him with title defense victory.
Last Saturday, Nurmagomedov defended his champion’s belt in a title unification bout in Abu Dhabi against Dustin Poirier of the United States. The Russian defeated his US opponent with a choke in Round 3.
"I have to move on and to meet with Khabib and congratulate him," Putin said at a meeting with militiamen, who fought against militants during the 1999 armed assault on Dagestan, in the Dagestani residential settlement of Botlikh.
In August and September 1999, armed groups of militants intruded from neighboring Chechnya into the Tsumada and Botlikh districts and then into the Novolaksky District of Dagestan. Russia’s regular troops resisting the intrusion relied on assistance from local volunteer militias.
During the meeting with Putin one of the militiamen pointed to the achievements of athletes from Dagestan. The Russian president recalled a story in this regard about Russian Olympic wrestlers, whom Italian-born coach allowed to visit their homes right before the start of the Olympics.
"I asked him [the coach] why did he do that, why letting them go home right before the Olympic Games? They will be enjoying shashlik there…," Putin said.
"The coach objected, saying that on the contrary they would return ‘positively charged’ and he was right in the end," the Russian president continued.
"Villages gathered to see them off [to the Olympics]. One of them told me later that he was ‘stepping on the mat ready to die.’ This is how strong his motivation was. He became the Olympic champion," Putin said.
"You are right that it all comes from the family and from the people in general. This is why the people of Dagestan give birth to such heroes, who are strong in their will and physical condition and masters in sports," the Russian president added.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, hailing from Russia’s North Caucasus Region of Dagestan, was the first Russian to win the UFC champion title during the fight against his US opponent Al Iaquinta in the spring of 2018.
The 30-year-old Russian fighter, nicknamed ‘The Eagle,’ currently holds an unblemished record of 28 wins in all of his mixed martial arts fights (8 by KOs, 10 by submission and 10 by decision).
On April 8, 2018, Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta in a five-round bout for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight belt in New York.
At the UFC 229 tournament in Las Vegas on the night of October 6, 2018, Nurmagomedov defended his champion’s title in the fight against famous Irish professional mixed martial arts fighter and boxer, Conor McGregor. The Russian defeated McGregor with a choke in the 4th round of the fight.