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Khabib Nurmagomedov capped off his career with a stunning performance against Justin Gaethje in the UFC 254 main event but his win was even greater considering the odds he faced leading into Saturday’s fight.
According to his head coach Javier Mendez, the UFC lightweight champion faced all sorts of adversity during training camp that slowed him down but Nurmagomedov refused to stop.
“This was the worst camp we’ve ever had in the sense of preparation,” Mendez told Yahoo Sports. “Accommodations were the best ever, hospitality was the best ever. But we had so much bad luck.
“There was staph infection with a lot of the guys and the mumps. Khabib had the mumps two weeks going into [training camp] and I was like ‘oh my God, I’m so concerned.’ He trained one week really light and then the following week he broke his toe next to the pinky toe. Because of the broken toe, we were again out.”
Earlier in the night, UFC President Dana White addressed Nurmagoemdov’s broken foot, which he only learned about after the undefeated Russian had secured the 29th win of his career.
Mendez admits between the illness and the injury that he was rather concerned about Nurmagomedov’s ability to not only fight but to perform at the same level that allowed him to stay perfect throughout his entire career.
Fortunately, Nurmagomedov had no doubts.
“This was a very hard camp,” Mendez said. “But Khabib said ‘coach, my toe may be broken but my mind is not.’
“I said I know and that’s when I knew he was going to fight through all of this adversity no matter what.”
The end result was a second-round submission win as Nurmagomedov retained his UFC lightweight title one final time before calling it a career when he announced his retirement following the fight.
Nurmagomedov obviously walks away with the absolute admiration of his head coach for getting through the toughest of situations and still looking like the most dominant fighter on the planet.
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