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Khabib Nurmagomedov – Russia’s Most Followed Instagram Star

Russia is in many ways an unusual country. You will understand this the first time you visit here. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the most popular Russian blogger on Instagram is not a movie star or a singer, but … a UFC fighter from Dagestan. ExploRussia is happy to introduce him!

Khabib Nurmagomedov

His name is Khabib Nurmagomedov and he has more than 17 million followers on Instagram! Most recently, the list of the most popular Russian stars was headed by Olga Buzova, but now pop singers and rap artists are not at the top.

Nevertheless, the title Superstar has got professional UFC fighter from Dagestan. Dagestan is a very special region in the south of Russia, which even for Russians remain exotic. Most people living here are strict Muslims with strong patriarchate lifestyle. You may learn more about Dagestan culture and food on our Moscow Local Market Food tour. But back to the son of this land, Khabib…

 Who is he? Why is he loved in Russia and in the world? 

One who knows no defeat

Khabib Nurmagomedov is a unique athlete. He spent 28 Professional fights in Mixed Martial Arts and has not suffered a single defeat. He was the first Muslim to become the UFC champion.

He was disqualified and banned from playing after one of the most famous fights in the history of MMA – with the Irish fighter Conor McGregor.

And now he is one of the three most influential Muslims in Russia.

He is the most popular blogger on Russian Instagram, but almost nothing is known about his personal life. We only know the name of his wife – Patimat. They know each other since childhood. Habib returned to his native village when he was already a famous athlete, and married Patimat. The woman does never accompany Khabib on trips and never watches his fights. She is raising two children and expecting for a third one.

Khabib was born in 1988 in a small village of Dagestan. He is an Avar by nationality. He began training from childhood, and his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov (Instagram), is also a hereditary wrestler, he became the first Khabib’s coach for 5 years. His father was a freestyle wrestling coach.

Once, Khabib found a videotape with fights without rules, and he wanted to try himself in martial arts with shock equipment. Khabib’s father just began to teach teenagers combat sambo. However, before starting fights without rules, Khabib began to study judo with another coach, and in 2005 he switched to combat sambo – he returned to training with his father.

Thus began the career of one of the most famous MMA fighters in the world.

Way to UFC

Khabib’s father didn’t let him work or study, he said: “If you work somewhere, then you are no longer an athlete. If you are an athlete, you have to live it. You have to get up early, go to train, become home, eat and sleep”.

The results were not long in coming: on January 21, 2012, Khabib held his first fight under the UFC American promotion. The battle ended with his victory over Kamal Shalorus. Khabib was then only 23 years old! Many said that the fighter is still too young for the UFC, but this only irritated Khabib, it motivated him to go into the cage again and again. And to show what he is capable of!

Then there was a series of brilliant victories over the most famous fighters in the world. Thiago Tavares, Abel Trujillo, Pat Healy, Darrell Horcher, Michael Johnson… None of them stood against the Russian fighter.

In 2017, Khabib had a very spectacular fight. In Las Vegas, as part of the UFC 219 show, he defeated Brazilian fighter Edson Barboza. The very next year, on April 8, Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated American fighter Al Yakvint and became the UFC lightweight champion.

So Habib was not only the first Muslim to become the UFC champion. He also became the first UFC champion from Russia!


New fights – new victories!


On October 6, 2018, as part of UFC 229 in Las Vegas, Khabib fought with the legendary mixed-style Irish fighter Conor McGregor. On the eve of the fight, experts called the favorite of the Russian fighter. Interest in the battle was fueled by numerous scandals, initiated by Conor. Khabib Nurmagomedov won an early victory by suffocating reception.

The scandalous battle affected not only Conor’s career (due to defeat), but also on Khabib’s one. He was disqualified until the summer of 2019 due to the mass brawl that the fighters staged after the fight. However, on September 7, the ban ended – Khabib won again, this time over Dustin Porrier in Abu Dhabi at UFC 242.

You can follow Khabib on Instagram and wait for his new incredible fights! 🙂

Written by Denis Bets