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Kremlin: Putin eager to meet with undefeated UFC champ Khabib, but no exact date scheduled

Nurmagomedov earlier stunned his numerous fans worldwide by saying that he would retire because he wants to spend more time with his family

MOSCOW, October 27. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to meet personally with Reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but no exact date has been scheduled as of yet, Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Asked at a daily briefing whether President Putin would hold a get-together with Nurmagomedov, Peskov replied: "Yes, indeed, the president said he definitely wants to have this meeting, but only after Khabib takes a good rest [after the fight] and the [COVID-19] epidemiological situation begins to subside."

"There is no definite date scheduled at the moment," Peskov added.

On October 24, Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Gaethje of the United States in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital city, during the UFC-254 tournament, defending his champion’s belt for the third time in a row. The Russian fighter booked the victory over his US opponent with a choke in Round 2.

Right after the bout, Nurmagomedov stunned his numerous fans worldwide by saying that he would retire because he wants to spend more time with his family.

In a telephone call last Sunday, Russian President Putin congratulated Nurmagomedov on another sound victory in the history of the mixed martial arts tournaments.

The government of Dagestan stated earlier on Tuesday on its official Instagram account that Khabib Nurmagomedov had arrived in Makhachkala, the capital of Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, after he triumphantly defended his champion’s title last weekend.

"Physical Culture and Sports Minister of the Republic of Dagestan Magomed Magomedov personally welcomed Reigning UFC Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at the International Airport of Makhachkala," the statement said.

In early September 2019, Putin held a personal meeting at the airport of Makhachkala in Dagestan with UFC Reigning Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and his father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

During that meeting Putin warmly greeted the young fighter and his father congratulating Khabib on the victorious fight to defend his UFC champion’s belt against Dustin Poirier of the United States. The Russian president thanked Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov: "I would like to congratulate you on your son’s victory."

On July 3, Russia’s prominent mixed martial arts (MMA), sambo and wrestling coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away at the age of 57. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was hospitalized earlier in the year after he had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. He had initially been taken to hospital in the Russian capital with severe pneumonia and after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus suffered a stroke and spent a week on the life support system.

UFC Reigning Champ Nurmagomedov

In early September 2019, Nurmagomedov defended his UFC champion’s belt for the second time 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.

The Russian fighter’s team signed a contract in November 2019 for Khabib to face American Tony Ferguson at a UFC event in Brooklyn, New York, on April 18, 2020, in Barclays Center. However, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in March this year the state of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which included the cancellation and postponement of various sports events, and the fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson was cancelled as well.

UFC President Dana White announced later in March that the Russian fighter would be substituted in the fight against Ferguson by Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje, 31, who had a record at that time of 22 wins (19 by KO/TKO, one by submission and two by decisions) and two defeats.

The 32-year-old Russian fighter, nicknamed ‘The Eagle,’ is holding an unblemished record of 29 wins in all of his mixed martial arts fights (8 by KOs, 11 by submission and 10 by decision).

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.

On April 8, 2018, Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta in a five-round fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight belt in New York.