UFC superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov's father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, is "progressing" in a Moscow hospital, Khabib's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN on Tuesday.
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was hospitalized last month and underwent a procedure on his heart because of complications from a previous ailment and falling ill with the coronavirus. Nurmagomedov, 31, confirmed his father was in critical condition in a social media post in May. According to Abdelaziz, Abdulmanap's condition has improved but the situation remains serious.
"Khabib is very strong, his family is very strong and his father is very strong," Abdelaziz told ESPN. "He's improving. He opened his eyes, responding a little bit -- good sign. Allah is in control. We have faith he will be better, but at the end of the day, it's completely up to his health whether it progresses or not. But he's progressing, and we're very happy about this."
Abdelaziz went on to say Abdulmanap did manage to speak to his son, and smile at him.
UFC president Dana White has stated he wants to promote a championship fight between Nurmagomedov (28-0) and interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje (22-2) in September. Abdelaziz, who also manages Gaethje, said Nurmagomedov has been training regularly and intends to unify the title against Gaethje in the near future.
"I think Khabib's father being sick has motivated him more," Abdelaziz said. "He's training every day, two times a day. He's in camp already. Me and him were talking and I said, 'Hey, get your mind off, do what you need to do.' He's always training. He's a true mixed martial artist. Same with Gaethje. They are both great guys and they want to fight. It's a dream fight."
One person who might not consider it a dream fight is former lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who has demanded a fight against Gaethje this summer. Recently, McGregor announced his retirement from MMA on social media. It's the third time McGregor has announced his "retirement" from the sport in the past four years.
Abdelaziz said if Gaethje wins the 155-pound championship against Nurmagomedov, McGregor likely would be his next opponent. If Nurmagomedov were to remain undefeated, however, Abdelaziz admitted he doesn't ever see the two fighting again. Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round of a championship bout in 2018, in a fight that was surrounded by ugly, personal attacks.
"After Gaethje [defeated Tony Ferguson for the interim belt on May 9], I told him, 'I'm going to be real with you. If you fight scumbag [McGregor], you'll probably make a lot more than you're making [to fight Nurmagomedov].'" Abdelaziz said. "He said, 'My parents raised me better. The integrity I have to myself, my family and to this sport is worth more than money.
"But if Justin wins, Justin might fight him. If Khabib wins, he better go down to 145 pounds ... For Khabib to fight Conor again -- Khabib has 'f--- you money.' He doesn't need another $20 [million] to $30 million. I can't convince him to fight Conor. Honestly, right now, I don't think Khabib will give Conor a chance. He's different, man. It's principle first, then after that, it becomes money. This guy (McGregor) talked about his father, mother, wife -- you want to give this piece of s--- another opportunity to do that again? Who would?"