UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has come to the defense of his home nation of Dagestan, accusing Russian media of sensationalizing crime there and appearing hostile in their reporting.

Nurmagomedov has remained in the public eye despite retiring from the UFC last year, serving as a coach for a plethora of MMA fighters and fighting for change in his home country. He’s also made a few inspirational speeches and lectures most recently in the U.K.

Nurmagomedov wants to have a lasting legacy outside of fighting, even when it comes to his skepticism of the media in Russia. It all started when Russian civilian Roman Kovalev was attacked by a group of men on a Moscow subway train, and the group then attacked him in a now-viral video on social media.

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Khabib Nurmagomedov accuses the Russian media of slandering Dagestan

Nurmagomedov had plenty to say in reaction to the stories, attributing the group to Dagestan.

“We also have feelings – there are 3.5 million Dagestanis if not 4 million of us.” Nurmagomedov said (h/t Bloody Elbow). “I think it’s wrong – when one person does the wrong thing – to write in all the media ‘Dagestanis, Dagestanis’. But there are at least 3.5 million Dagestanis. There is the intelligentsia, there are scientists, athletes, doctors.”

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“There are people who very worthily represent not only Dagestan but all of Russia. But as soon as one sick person does something bad, all the media, including you, throw it out there that Dagestanis did this and that.”

Nurmagomedov went on to point out that the Russian media has treated different incidents involving crime differently and not simply pointing out where the criminals were from as a reason for their actions.

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Racism in Russia isn’t a new topic among prominent voices such as Nurmagomedov. Russia’s Jewish community and Central Asians have been targets of hateful actions for many years in the nation.

What is your reaction to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s comments regarding Dagestan?

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Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.