UFC lightweight champion Khabib Numagomedov will be the special guest at a 14-fight event in the Russian capital on September 9, honoring his late father, Abdulmanap, following his death from coronavirus complications in July.
The death of the world-renowned mixed martial arts coach, who was twice put into a medically-induced coma before dying in a Moscow hospital on July 3, was met with an outpouring of grief and tributes from stars across the world.
Usman Nurmagomedov became the first fighter from the 57-year-old’s stable to return to action when he won at UAE Warriors 12 card in Abu Dhabi last week, but the card next month, co-organized between the Fight Nights and Gorilla Fighting Championships (GFC) promotions, will be the first major MMA event to be dedicated to him.
Fight Nights president Kamil Hajiyev has confirmed to TASS that Nurmagomedov will be the guest of honor in a break from his preparations for his UFC comeback fight against Justin Gaethje on October 24.
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Kazakh GFC fighter Dauren Ermekov and Russian Fight Nights knockout artist Vladimir Mineev will headline the card in a middleweight clash with two belts on the line.
Mineev, who said he was grieving the “indelible loss” of Nurmagomedov senior after his death, suffered the only loss of his 14-fight professional career on a decision in 2016 and has ended four of his six scraps since prematurely.
Ermekov has won his last five fights but has not fought this year and criticized Hajiyev for already discussing a rematch between Mineev and former sambo world champion Magomed Ismailov, who Mineev drew with in 2018.
Abdulmanap is a fabled figure in his North Caucasus homeland and beyond, and Khabib has pledged to continue the many ambitions his father had to develop facilities and fighters before his untimely death.
He has already met local leaders to discuss those ideas in Dagestan, where a new gym bearing his father’s name was opened last year.
“He inspired the energy of victories which he knew how to achieve at all times, making ordinary boys world champions and with minimal resources,” the head of Dagestan, Vladimir Vasilyev, announced at the end of July, adding that “we all need to learn” from Nurmagomeov’s legacy.
“Everyone understands the measure of official and moral responsibility, but work on these projects is also a matter of honor.”