Khabib Nurmagomedov
via @khabib_nurmagomedov on Instagram

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has returned to training for the first time since the death of his father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. The 57-year-old passed away on July 3 after a long battle with health issues made worse by contracting the coronavirus.

Nurmagomedov’s timescale for a return to fighting has been unclear since the tragic death of his father. Many believe the undefeated Russian could walk away from the sport. His manager, Ali Abdelaziz has repeatedly denied this will be the case and told TMZ his fighter will return to action later this year, he said.

“Khabib is not retiring. Khabib has some goals to accomplish. You will see him before the end of the year.”

That may be true considering the fact Nurmagomedov is already back in the gym and sparring ahead of his eagerly anticipated comeback. Yesterday several photos emerged on social media showing Nurmagomedov in gloves and shin pads sparring with an unknown training partner – check them out below.

Former dual weight UFC champion Daniel Cormier doubts his friend Khabib will return to the cage in 2020. Speaking to Ariel Helwani he noted the close relationship Nurmagomedov enjoyed with his father and expressed his belief that the 155lb king will need significant time to mourn before stepping back into the fight game, he said.

“I don’t think he’s fighting this year, honestly. It’s going to take a lot of strength from a very strong man for Khabib to be back in the Octagon, ever, I think.”

“I just know what Abdulmanap meant to him, I know that this was their journey together. I hope he fights, but I don’t know. Like I said, he’s going to have to muster up a lot of strength for an already strong person to go out there and do it. And if he does, I just don’t know how long he’ll be around. Maybe (Khabib Nurmagomedov) fights and honors his father with another massive and unbelievable performance. But, I look back at his fight in September and when he won, the way his dad reacted it almost like you saw the video when his dad reacts after he won against Dustin Poirier, and it was almost like his spirit was filled with joy watching his kid do that. I’m just happy they got to share that together.”

Do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to fighting in 2020?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.