The father of one of MMA's most talented fighters, Khabib Nurmagomedov, has been denied a visa to the US ahead of this weekend's UFC 209 in Las Vegas.
Khabib's manager, Ali Abdel-Azi, confirmed to the Guardian that Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov had intended to be in his son's corner for Saturday's co-main event, the UFC interim lightweight championship against Tony Ferguson.
Nurmagomedov is a devout Muslim from the Russian republic of Dagestan, where 83 per cent of the population practice Islam. Earlier this year, Donald Trump issued a now-suspended executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
Nurmagomedov has a 24-0 record in his MMA career, and was coached by his father – an army veteran – from a young age. One infamous video that emerged in recent years, showed a young Nurmagomedov wrestling a bear under his father’s supervision. Abdulmanap referenced his unusual training methods in an interview with Russian media. “Firstly, a child always wants his father to see what his son is capable of,” Abdulmanap told ToFight.Ru. “It is a pity that there was nothing more interesting when he was younger. In the end, this was a test of character more than exercise.”
This is not the first time an MMA fighter has been caught up in visa issues. Lightweight fighter Mairbek Taisumov, a Chechen-Russian, has also been denied a visa to the US, as has Nurmagomedov’s cousin Magomedrasul ‘Frodo’ Khasbulaev.
Nurmagomedov has been touted as a potential opponent for Conor McGregor although the Irishman has shown little inclination to set up a fight.
“Don’t chicken out please,” Nurmagomedov wrote in a message to McGregor last year. “I know I’m a bad matchup for you but you the champion and you need to fight the best. It’s OK. Die like an Irish warrior don’t run like a chicken.”