It would seem UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will be completing his training camp for the upcoming title unification bout against Justin Gaethje without returning to the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California as the champion usually does.
Speaking to ESPN, Khabib’s head coach Javier Mendez shared the news stating that the champion would alternatively be training either in his home country of Dagestan or nearby to where the event will take place.
Currently the UFC has not announced where this will be, however, Mendez believes it has been narrowed down to two options.
“We’ve got two choices [for the fight], right? Las Vegas or Fight Island [Yas Island, Abu Dhabi],'” Mendez told ESPN. “I’m thinking Fight Island, but they haven’t said it yet. What I do know is that [COVID-19] is too high in California, and Khabib is not comfortable coming here to train.” [Transcribed by ESPN]
This is to be the first time the champion has completed a fight camp without visiting AKA since 2014. Khabib was booked to take on Tony Ferguson in April and traveled to the US to complete his camp before being sent home after logistical issues caused by COVID. This saw the champion forced out of his fight seeing Justin Gaethje take his place and fight Ferguson.
After Gaethje emerged victoriously and claimed the interim title it was scheduled that the two would face off to unify the belts. Unfortunately, this would have to be pushed back slightly due to the tragic passing of Khabib’s father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
According to Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz, the champion will attempt to defend against Justin Gaethje and if successful will have one final fight with the goal of retiring at 30-0 as per his father’s wishes. During the interview with ESPN, Mendez elaborated stating that he had heard the plan discussed between the two many times.
“It was discussed on numerous occasions — 30-0,” Mendez said. “And GSP was definitely the legacy fight. If they can complete that, I could see 30-0 and he’s done. I can definitely see that. That conversation was brought up numerous times while I was with them.” [Transcribed by ESPN]