American Kickboxing Academy coach Javier Mendez clarified details surrounding Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement from coaching, suggesting that ‘The Eagle’ never actually said he was walking away from the sport altogether.
After going 29-0, capturing the UFC lightweight world championship along the way, Nurmagomedov retired from the sport in 2020 following a title defense against perennial contender Justin Gaethje. Since then, ‘The Eagle’ has continued to be a constant presence at events while cornering fighters, including reigning 155-pound titleholder Islam Makhachev. However, fans were thrown another curveball when Nurmagomedov seemingly announced his retirement from coaching and was noticeably absent during Makhachev’s UFC 284 superfight with featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski.
As it turns out, Nurmagomedov may not actually be done coaching. Sure, the likelihood of seeing him Octagon-side on Fight Night is slim, but according to Javier Mendez, ‘The Eagle’ still makes an appearance inside the gym from time to time.
“One thing people don’t understand is he never said he wouldn’t coach people,” Mendez told The Schmo. “He said he’s not gonna be in the corner and travel to fight camps because he’s spending time with his family. He never said he wouldn’t come and visit here and there, and train the guys. He never said none of that. He’s still holding to everything he’s ever said (h/t MMA News).
Javier Mendez also confirmed that ‘The Eagle’ has been back in the gym, helping his cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov prepare for a UFC Fight Night clash with Elizeu Zaleski on June 3. With both Islam Makhachev and Umar Nurmagomedov expected to return later this year, Mendez is hoping that the UFC Hall of Famer will make his way back to the gym and take some of the load off his shoulders.
“He never said never either, so I’m hoping at some point he can come back and help me because him being in the corner is such a huge motivator for the guys and me,” Mendez explained. “Then my job’s easier. I don’t have to worry about hardly anything. I just sit in the backseat and let him drive because he’s a hell of a driver.”
Javier Mendez Believes He Has Another Future World Champon on His Hands with Umar Nurmagomedov
Javier Mendez could be very busy in the near future as he has yet another potential future world champion on his hands with Umar Nurmagomedov. The 16-0 standout is on the cusp of becoming a legitimate contender in the bantamweight division. Speaking on the trajectory ‘Young Eagle’ is on, Mendez suggested it’s just a matter of time before he is facing top-five opponents en route to becoming a UFC world champion.
“Soon to be (champion), we’ve got ‘Young Eagle,’ which is Umar, Khabib’s cousin… He’s gonna be the bantamweight champ,” Mendez said. “Anybody in the top five is the right opponent (for him)… The likelihood of beating him is not in their favor. I don’t see anybody beating him in the bantamweight division.
“We’re training for a fight, we’re just waiting for a fight date… ‘Young Eagle’ Umar will be champ beginning of next year. New UFC bantamweight champion, I’m predicting it,” Mendez continued. “We get a top-five guy in his next fight, and I know he’s gonna beat him. Then the title shot is next. I really believe in my heart that the UFC will do that.”