On Saturday morning, several revered MMA publications broke the news that the formerly-unbeaten UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov had traded MMA gloves for shinpads to become a soccer player.
The Dagestani national supposedly completed a move to FC Legion Dynamo so that he might live out his boyhood dream of representing the club in the Russian third division.
Hard to deny a man his dream. But the lofty heights of Russian third-tier soccer never quite felt comparable to Khabib’s other dream of becoming an undefeated lightweight UFC champion. And that’s despite the quite convincing news that came out of Legion Dynamo.
The club apparently posted an image of the Eagle sitting at a table with Warsaw club President Shamil Gadzhialievich Lakhiyalov on it’s official (*cough cough*) Instagram account and followed it up with a quote from club president Shamil Lakhiyalov:
Seriously, the account looks about as real as the account of that hot girl who keeps DMing me asking to ‘join her group to see more sexy photos.’
However, as it turned out, these reports of the Eagle becoming a striker for Legion Dynamo were entirely FALSE. So too the quotes from Lakhiyalov.
Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz took to social media this morning to ask the post be taken down from the Legion Dynamo Instagram page. Abdelaziz also tweeted ESPN (as seen below):
Does Khabib Nurmagomedov want to play soccer?
Khabib finished up his legendary 29-0 MMA career with straight wins over Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, and Justin Gaethje. He retired as the undefeated, unequaled, and unrivaled UFC lightweight champion of the world.
To his absolute credit, Khabib Nurmagomedov had little left to prove to the world of combat sports when he retired. Following the harrowing death of his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov (RIP) – the man who trained him and was in his corner for the entirety of a storied career, it would have been hard to cast any shade on one of MMA’s greatest ever combatants pursuing his ‘soccer dream’ if he ever did decide to make that a reality.
But will Khabib actually ever play soccer?
We don’t know. He might – we only know it won’t be at Legion Dynamo.
The Eagle did flirt with the idea of playing football back in January, though when he tweeted:
“Preparing for my football debut. I’m a free agent and ready to sign offers.”
Few outside of Khabib’s immediate circle, however, took this tweet to be a genuine come and get me plea to soccer clubs; most assumed it was tongue in cheek.
Perhaps the news wouldn’t come as such a shock were it to happen, though: Khabib Nurmagomedov is a self-confessed Los Blancos fan (Real Madrid) and has even struck up a friendship with one of the best to ever play the game in Cristiano Ronaldo – the former Madrid forward and record goalscorer.
How Khabib would handle a switch would certainly make for some interesting viewing. His warrior mentality would serve him well though. Having friends like Cristiano Ronaldo in his corner for advice wouldn’t hurt his hopes either…
… We at Fight Bananas were more surprised to read he was set to play as a striker in Russia. Khabib certainly seems like more of a tough-tackling central midfielder. Definitely more in the mold of a Vinnie Jones than a Lionel Messi, surely…