Former undisputed UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov is said to have been left awestruck by last weekend’s Bellator MMA vs. Rizin event in Saitama, Japan – describing the cross-promoted event as “unbelievable” according to Bellator president, Scott Coker.
Khabib, a former undisputed lightweight champion under the banner of the UFC, retired from active competition back in October 2020 on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, UAE – improving to 29-0 with a second round triangle submission win over then-interim titleholder, Justin Gaethje.
In the time since, the Dagestan native has turned his hand successfully to coaching – guiding both Islam Makhachev, and Usman Nurmagomedov to lightweight gold under the UFC and Bellator MMA banners, respectively, as well as heading up Florida-based promotion, Eagle FC.
Scott Coker details attending Bellator MMA vs. Rizin alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov
Attending Bellator MMA vs. Rizin on New Year’s Eve at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, Khabib, who sat alongside the above-mentioned, Coker, is said to have been left in amazement by the event and pageantry.
“It’s very interesting, because he (Khabib Nurmagomedov) wasn’t here in the heyday,” Scott Coker told assembled media at the post-fight press conference. “I got to see those fights. A lot ofyou know that [I’ve been] in the martial arts business a long time, I started working for K-1 in 199, so I got to see all the great fights in K-1. I got to see the great fights of PRIDE. And Khabib has never see the production and the fans, and he was freaking out.”
“He was telling me, ‘This is unbelievable,’” Scott Coker said of Khabib Nurmagomedov. “He kept telling me, ‘This is unbelievable. I had no idea that something like this was happening in Japan.’ And I said, ‘This is where it started, Khabib.’ This is where MMA and martial arts combat – it started here, it grew throughout the rest of the world, but there was a time when Japan had the best fighters in the world, the best production in the world, the best promotion in the world, and that’s why the UFC bought it (PRIDE). Just like my company, Strikefroce, I think we had a great roster, great events, so they (the UFC) bought it.” (Transcribed by MMA Fighting)