Khabib ‘set to meet Putin’ as hero’s welcome continues in Russia
Nurmagomedov defeated Conor McGregor in the pair’s bout at UFC 229 on Saturday night, and returned home to a massive reception in his native Dagestan earlier this week.
The undefeated lightweight king is now heading to meet President Putin at the ‘Russia – Country of Sports’ forum in the city of Ulyanovsk, according to reports.
Footage has appeared online of Nurmagomedov looking suited and booted on a plane heading to Ulyanovsk.
When asked if he was planning to meet Putin at the forum, Nurmagomedov replied: “Yes, that’s why we are flying.”
President Putin is expected to be in attendance as patron of the ‘Russia – Country of Sports’ international forum, which runs from October 10 to 12 in the city on the banks of the Volga.
After his dominant fourth-round submission victory over McGregor on Saturday, Nurmagomedov revealed that the Russian leader had phoned him, telling him that he was “proud” of his achievements.
The run-up to the fight had seen claims from McGregor that Nurmagomedov had “disrespected” the Russian leader by saying he was not bothered by a photo of the Irishman with Putin at the World Cup final in Moscow in July.
McGregor had reportedly been at the event as a VIP guest of the Russian leader, while Nurmagomedov was in attendance elsewhere in the stadium.
“All media talk about like, take a photo with Putin, something like this, he just called me. And he say he very proud of me, I win, and he say congratulations,” Nurmagomedov said at the post-fight press conference in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The fight saw ‘The Eagle’ move his undefeated record to 27-0, although there were ugly scenes when a mass brawl broke out after the Russian fighter scaled the cage to confront a member of McGregor’s team after he had defeated the Irishman.
Nurmagomedov later apologized, but said that McGregor’s insults in the lead-up to the bout had played a role in sparking the controversial scenes.