It takes time to create the greatest grappler in the history of mixed martial arts. Rome was not built in a day. You can’t make a good fighter overnight. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was a man with vision, who dedicated his life to creating champions and some of the best names in the history of one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.
Before Abdulmanap, nobody knew about “the power of Dagestani wrestling”. Today, every fighter who squares off against a fighter from Dagestan will pay attention to the opponent’s wrestling/grappling aspect of the game. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was a revolutionary person, the MMA innovator. Despite covid-19 took his life, legends are remembered forever.
But how did everything start? Why did Abdulmanap decide to open a dojo and kick off his trip to the unknown? How did his son Khabib become so dominant lightweight champion? Please read on to get to know the career of, according to many, the greatest wrestling coach in MMA.
Birth And Sports Career
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was born on December 10th, 1962, in Sildi, Dagestan, Tsumadinsky District, Russia. His ethnicity is Avar, and he was a devoted Muslim.
Freestyle wrestling has always been the number one sport in Dagestan, but during the era of the Soviet Union, Dagestani mat warriors were pretty much unable to dominate as Georgia and Armenia were winning the majority of championships.
Nurmagomedov was a football player (he played at a second-tier club) but then transitioned to wrestling in the sixth grade. He has always been a training addict.
Abdulmanap had a very harsh daily routine – 22 kilometers of cycling, 8 kilometers of walking, plus two hours of extremely hard wrestling mats workout sessions. Khabib’s father was a peaceful kid but he was always ready to protect himself if trouble came.
The first competition he took part in was in 1974 and he finished second. Yet, that “failure” didn’t demoralize him from working even harder. Abdulmanap claimed that “he learned a lot from that defeat”. After a few back-to-back wins at prestigious Soviet tournaments at a young age, Khabib’s father joined military forces, where he started training Judo and Sambo.
Despite the era of Georgian domination, he won many regional competitions in freestyle wrestling, Sambo, and Judo. Just like his son, Abdulmanap was known for excellent offense and constant pressure.
He trained with one of the most famous coaches of the USSR, Pyotr Ivanovich Butriy, an Honored Master of Sports, who coached the Soviet national wrestling team back at the Olympics in Montreal 1976. Peter was the head coach of Vladimir Nevzorov, the wrestler who won a gold medal for the Soviet Union in the competition.
Yet, he decided to put his fighting career to a halt and started pursuing his coaching dream in 1987. It was a hard time to start the business, as the end of the Soviet Union was closing in. But Abdulmanap believed in his plans and never gave up, which led to numerous achievements over the next few years.
Abdulmanap graduated from the Poltava University of Economics and Trade with a degree in accounting and economics in 1987. He also achieved the status of master in sports. This devoted family man was a father of two sons, Magomed and Khabib, and one daughter Amina.
Despite many offers for the skillful coach, Abdulmanap was unable to imagine life away from his family, so he returned to his home state of Dagestan (a part of Ukraine back then) and started off his coaching role. North Caucasus was dealing major crisis in 1990, but the strong power of will was a miraculous weapon in the hands of Khabib’s father.
Abdulmanap’s first coaching success happened in 1992 when his younger brother Nurmagomed Nurmagomedov won the World Sambo Championship under the flag of Ukraine.
Just like any other Dagestani coach, Abdulmanap loves his pupils and cares for them like a real father. It is rumored that his sons Magomed and Khabib learned to walk and made their first steps in the gym.
He then created Manapovskaya School, which became famous all around the globe after Khabib’s breakthrough. His son, the former undefeated 155-pound champion, trained with 5-7 years older kids, which perfected his top-notch wrestling performance years later inside the Octagon.
Abdulmanap learned many moves from other dojos, which were later implemented into Khabib’s game, for example, a knee to the head off the clinch or flying knees. He was aware that classical wrestling/grappling game would be ineffective in MMA ring, but he never feared making modifications and adjustments in his gym.
Abdulmanap raised many tremendous grappling/wrestling champions and famous mixed martial artists:
- Islam Makhachev – the former Combat Sambo world champion, nowadays number 7 in UFC lightweight roster and one of the most promising fighters at 155.
- Sultan Aliev – also ex-combat Sambo champ, fought in UFC and Bellator from 2011 to 2019.
- Abubakar Nurmagomedov – UFC Welterweight division fighter (16-4).
- Ikram Aliskerov – ex-Sambo champ of the world, he competes at Brave Combat Federation 185-pound division at the moment.
- Shamil Zavurov – the ex-M-1 Global 170-pound titleholder, and also a former 3-time champ of the world in Sambo.
- Magomedrasul Khasbulaev – the former Bellator fighter and Sambo champ of the world, and the current vacant ACA 145-pound champion.
- Azamat Hashimov – the former UFC bantamweight fighter.
But undoubtedly, the greatest jewel of his career is his younger son Khabib Nurmagomedov, the former UFC 155-pound king and arguably the best offensive wrestler to ever participate in MMA.
Interestingly, the famous coach gave more chances of success to Khabib’s older brother Magomed, but it was changing as time went by. Khabib was extremely talented, fast, tricky, and willing to learn 24/7.
Khabib Nurmagomedov – Father/Son Bond
Khabib started training at the age of 8 after his father converted the ground floor of their family home into a gym. His father turned him into one of the most dangerous offensive MMA wrestlers in the world. The former UFC champ was also a two-time Sambo champion of the world (2009, 2010), then he made a transition to the MMA.
After a stunning 16-0 record the Dagestani mauling monster inked a contract with the greatest promotion in the world, where he defeated some of the greatest names in the world – Dustin Poirier, Edson Barboza, Al Iaquinta, Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje…
The legendary coach said that wrestling with a wild animal was a great way to test his son’s skills and readiness for world-class achievements. For Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, a bear fight was “a test of character more than an exercise”.
The two shared a special bond, and Abdulmanap was always in Khabib’s corner when he took part in international competitions.
Abdulmanap was targeted by Conor McGregor in building up the hype for the Khabib Vs Conor belt fight, which led to numerous incidents between the two fighters. After the wrecked bus incident on UFC 223 media day, Conor was constantly mocking Khabib’s teammates and family members, which led to a massive post fight brawl following Nurmagomedov’s UFC 229 fourth-round win over the Irish superstar.
Khabib defended the honor of his family and teammates many times and turned down the second fight with Conor despite Dana White offered an enormous amount of money. When asked to pick his son’s favorite fight, Abdulmanap called McGregor “a showman, not a real fighter”.
Unfortunately, covid-19 pandemics ended the life of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. He was diagnosed with pneumonia in April 2020 and checked into one of the top military hospitals in Moscow. On May 13, his condition got worse, and he battled for two more months with the dangerous virus before passing away on July 3rd, 2020. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was 57 years old.
Abdulmanap earned a lot of respect in the MMA community and social media was flooded with messages of condolences and tributes.
Khabib has always been a man of his word. He fought Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 to fulfill his father’s last wish and reclaimed the belt via second-round submission win, then ended his UFC run and retired from MMA.
When asked why he decided to hang up his gloves, the Dagestani wrestler said that he couldn’t fight without his father in the corner. Dana White officially announced Khabib’s retirement on March 19, 2021, after a meeting with the Dagestani fighting legend.
According to Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, everyone can truly achieve whatever he wants to by training in the cool air of the sea. Nature offers everything you need. He believed that training outside was more beneficial than million-dollar equipment and facilities.
The legendary Dagestani coach was a fan of various exercises that improve endurance, strategic thinking, and developing techniques of impact. For Abdulmanap, working in the stalls comes first, and everything else comes second.
What Makes Sambo Fighters From Abdulmanap’s Dojo So Tough And Special In The World Of MMA?
Abdulmanap trained many martial arts, and he decided to make a completely new, more effective style of fighting. The master of painful and suffocating techniques from different angles and sides decided to put everything onto a whole new level.
The majority of Sambo fighters don’t feint much. They land wide hooks or go for a takedown or clinch up with the opponent by any means necessary. When on the ground, they persistently go for leg locks or armbar attempts (Fedor is a perfect example of a Sambo God).
But Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s fighters are masters of tremendous offensive pressure, marching forward and closing the angles. If you analyze the gameplan of his fighters, you’ll notice that none of them were knocked out via a knee to the head while going for a takedown. They don’t make Kazuyuki Fujita’s mistakes. Why?
Because his fighters are extremely tricky until the fight gets dragged to the ground. They like to move laterally and disable their opponents from straight-line counterstrikes. Even if you want to counter, you’d have to be a master of movements and footwork like Demetrious Johnson or a master of sprawling like Mirko Cro Cop or Jose Aldo. They are precise on their feet, and their short-range strikes are very powerful.
When the fight is dragged to the ground, Abdulmanap’s fighters tend to trap the opponent’s legs and punch from the top until the referee stops the fight. If there’s an opportunity, they maul their foes from the mount and finish the bout via an array of submissions from tricky angles or a barrage of punches and elbows off the mount.
Khabib/Abdulmanap is a perfect example of one of the greatest bonds between a father and son in the world of modern mixed martial arts. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov left this world, but his achievements and successes in the MMA world will be remembered forever. The “Dagestani wrestling style” is known worldwide in the cage because of him. Osu!