Khabib’s coach talked about how Habib got into his room, about the relationship with Habib’s father, about the fight with Conor, Iaquinta .
I want a fight with Conor, but Habib thinks in a slightly different way. He thinks: “I want to do the right thing.” Now, probably, this helmet can be sold for a high price, it is necessary that Habib signed it and pick it up. I always say to Habib: “Act according to the father’s plan.” The hardest opponent, I believe, was Conor. It is pure boxing, of course, we will not pull. Putin said he was proud of Habib, proud of Habib’s speech, and how he defended his country.
I remember that Habib first came to our gym thanks to one of my fighters, King Mo. King told me that “He has a friend who is a Muslim, a fighter, because King Mo is a Muslim himself, and he asked:” Can a guy who wants to train come to the gym, I said: “Yes, of course.” And when Khabib first came to us, he did not speak English at all and practically understood nothing. But when he began to understand, he always came as ready as possible, and by the way, he still comes with the Everlast helmet, which I gave him. To this day, he trains in this helmet. I told him: “Habib change the helmet already,” he says: “No, coach, this is my favorite helmet, because you gave it to me. Remember? And I even forgot about it. This is the same helmet that I gave him. The truth is now he glues a “LogoEagle” sticker on it for MMA. Sticker his team.
Is that an old helmet?
Very old. I think he is 7. Good helmet. He adores him. Do not want to change it to anything else. Now, probably, this helmet can be sold for dearly, so that Habib signed it and pick it up.
When you first saw him in training at AKA, you immediately noticed something special in him: in his technical skills, in his physical form?
When he came for the first time, his strike was terrible, but he still dominated his opponents thanks to the terrific grappling and mental rigidity and thanks to the excellent preparation he received from his father. He dominated from the start, he did not lose a single sparing. Sow a day like this, he never lost in sparings. Someone said that he lost rounds, it is not. Sparings last three rounds and more, sometimes someone can take a round from him, but one way or another he wins anyway. He does not lose, Habib always wins.
So Habib first came to your gym after a fight with Shelo Rus?
Yes, after this fight. It turns out that he spent the first fight with us against Glaison Tibao.
Did you watch the fight with Shela Rus?
No, I did not see this fight.
When he came to your gym, you did not begin to reconsider his battles?
Not. It did not make much sense to watch his previous fights, because I saw him here in the gym, I saw what he was doing, so I knew what I needed to work on, and every time he came to the workout he became better. And before the last four fights, Habib arrives two months earlier to us. Therefore, we see such a serious progress in skills, namely in a strike, not on the ground, there is no place there. In this regard, his father is incredible, one of the best grappling coaches in the world. He did a terrific job of making Habib the best grappler, and he proves it from time to time. How many grappling tournaments he won, see for yourself. Who beat Habib in greplengue? No one. In his weight category just no one.
And when you watched his fight against Glayson Tibao, which many consider not the most outstanding performance of Habib, and many generally believe that it was the most difficult fight of Habib in the UFC. What did you think when you watched this fight?
When he fought with Tibao, I agree that it was one of the most difficult of his fights, but he learned a lot from this fight, look what he started to do after. He began to spread everyone. The fight with Tibao was hard, first of all because Habib then only began to develop comprehensively in MMA. He came to us began to develop, and what he did is proof of that. He lost only one round in his career in the last match to Conor McGregor, and that’s only because Habib himself decided to fight with Conor in the front, and then only to show Conor “Look, I can fight with you in a shot”. And he can. I kept saying this, people continue to underestimate his shock, and she’s good, and continues to improve. He still has a lot to learn. He is one of the greatest. There is a good reason for this: it is his mental rigidity, faith in his own strength. I tell you no one will break his will.
When was the last time you talked to Habib’s father?
His father flew in here three or four years ago. We do not communicate with him because of the language barrier, but we understand each other. He is a great coach. He flew here to see how it all goes. He absolutely did not interfere in my work, he allowed me to work as I always do, and it was mutual. I respect what he does, because he is a great man, a great coach and it is worthy of respect. It’s great to work with him. I would like him to be here and share with us the joy of Habib’s victories, because if someone really deserves it, then it is he.
In the process of preparing Habib for the fight, do you somehow communicate with Abdulmanap or not?
No, we do not communicate and do not discuss in any way the preparation of Habib, because he knows that I know what he wants. I always, you can look at the video yourself, I always say to Habib: “Act according to the father’s plan”. Because I know what he wants. And his father knows that I would not dare to deviate from the plan that will be best for Habib. Not once did his father call me and say: “It is necessary for the son to do this, so that he could pull it up”. This has never happened. We really respect each other. He knows that I’m doing everything right, I know that he is doing everything right. He knows that I will do my best for his son, because he is like a son to me too.
And why, in your opinion, maybe you have any assumptions about why Abdulmanap does not give a visa to the United States?
No, I do not know why he could not get a visa in the United States, but it upsets me because, he was here, spent the whole month together with Habib practicing, had a good time, studied and taught us. I don `t know why they don’t give him a visa, for me this is a huge mystery. It would be great if he flew here with Habib. I would really like this.
In your recent interviews, you have repeatedly said that it would be great to open AKA halls around the world, in other countries. Is there any chance that you will open the AKA hall in Russia, and perhaps Abdulmanap will become head coach there, like Mike Svig in Thailand?
Yes, that would be great. But Habib has its own EaglesMMA team, its own halls, but if they ever wanted to open AKA in Russia and manage the hall with their father, then of course. Consider what has already been decided. He just needs to say that he wants it, potentially we will easily solve this issue, not a problem. I will help Habib in any endeavors, because for me he is part of the family, like all the other guys. I love all these guys. We treat each other as a family, and for a family I am ready to do everything.
Let’s talk a little bit about the fight with Conor now. What it was like for you to prepare for the most important fight in the history of the UFC and for the biggest fight in the UFC. Did you feel this differently? Were there any differences in the hall, in training, in the fighters involved in the preparation process? What did you notice if there was something different, not like in preparation for regular battles?
Yes, the energy was incredible, because it really was the biggest fight in history. And he justified this title. So the energy was incredible. People from all over the world came here, waited near the hall in order to catch a glimpse of Habib, it’s just incredible what a great influence he has on people. There was one guy, he flew in from Abu Dhabi, he rented a car in San Francisco, which is 1.5 hours away. Well, he rented a car, came here, talked to Habib for three minutes, because Habib no longer had the time and this guy was happy, just because he spoke with Habib for three minutes. And it happens all the time. He is a special person. He is a very responsible person who has a great future ahead. He is perceived as a man of great importance, and what he does directly affects many people in the world.
Many say that the fight with Conor eventually became the easiest fight for Habib in the UFC. Do you think this is so or are people mistaken?
It was an easy fight, but at the same time not an easy fight. It was an easy fight, because Habib had a hard training and he was ready physically and mentally. But it was not an easy fight, because if we had underestimated Conor, he could well have won this fight, but Habib doesn’t make such mistakes. Habib is a very disciplined and serious athlete, he takes everyone very seriously, he respects all the fighters. And Conor said unpleasant things about Habib’s father, and many other things, which motivated Habib to shut him up even harder. All this drama that Conor arranged in the end only motivated him even more, and therefore he even beat him in the stand, because he wanted to show him: “Look, everyone praises your stand, but I am competing with you in this aspect” and Habib is still progressing. So, everything that we have worked out for this fight worked perfectly. The only thing that didn’t work perfectly, I knew it would be, because even people asked: “He, what will fight with him in the rack?”, I answered: “If I and his father had decided, no”. But Habib will do what he wants and we see it all the time. So if he wants to fight with Conor in the stand, then I do not rule out that this can happen, and he did it. So after the third round with Conor in the stand, I told him: “I know that you want to fight with him in the stand, but let’s go back to the father’s plan, please act according to the father’s plan, we’ll have the fight “He says:” Good coach. ” So if someone says that he has a bad stand, you are crazy, he has a good stand, besides look at Al Iaquinta. When he fought with Al Iaquinta, everyone said: “Yes, he beats with a weakling,” I said: “Are you out of your mind, he fought with one of the toughest opponents in the whole lightweight division.” Now that Al Iaquinta defeated Kevin Lee, people only now realize how good Habib is, because he easily passed Iaquinta and then smashed Conor.
If I am not mistaken, this year Irish fighter Myles Spray came to your camp at AKA; last year he trained for a long time with Conor. Are you not afraid that this may be specially arranged, and that this is a misleading Cossack, a spy in your camp or something like that?
You know, I didn’t know when Miles came to us. I did not know that he practiced with Conor, then Habib arrived. I don’t remember who told me this, but I called him and said: “Hey Miles, I didn’t know that you trained with Conor,” he says: “Yes, but don’t worry, there’s no cause for concern,” I say: “I I’m not worried, it’s okay that you trained with Conor, I have no problems with that. ” The fact is that Miles never talked to Habib about Conor, did not ask him anything, he never gave a reason to doubt himself and now he is part of our family. For me, he is part of AKA, he is one of ours, he was part of our family and this will continue. So even though he is from Ireland, since he is here with us, it doesn’t matter to me from which country you are, what religion you are, what nationality you are, when you come to us, you become our brother, you become part of our family. Miles he is one of us.
Were you surprised by what happened after the fight?
What happened after the fight, these things, I certainly do not encourage. I do not want my fighters to do this, but at the same time, let’s admit, we all know Habib as he loves his father so much, and Conor called his father a rat, called him a terrorist, made fun of his religion, offered him a drink at a press conference laughed at his country. What else did you expect? I would like Conor not to say these things, I would like it to be regulated somehow and no such things happened. This is a sport, they are fighting for money, but first of all it is a sport. Two athletes go into a cage and find out who is stronger, but outside of the octagon they must be professionals. And when you go out and say such things, how can you then blame Habib? All he did was finish what they started. He jumped out of the cage to resolve the conflict that they started.
Do you remember your first dialogue with Habib after the fight and this incident?
After the fight, when the police took us backstage, the first thing that Habib told me was: “Coach, I apologize, I don’t know what I found, I just fell through,” I said: “Do not worry, everything is fine, everything will be fine”. And ten minutes after that, Vladimir Putin called him and said that he was proud of Habib, proud of his performance and how he defended his country.
At the moment, Habib is one of the most popular and famous athletes in the world, and he represents Russia, but you can only imagine, even in Russia, not all people, not all fans support and support Habib.
I know that they support him, people from all over the world support him, I know that Muslims support him, I know that people who value such concepts as honor and loyalty support him. I know that he is a star for everyone. For me, he is a man to be equal to. If someone’s son or daughter is looking for an idol, then Habib is an ideal candidate. Russia is not limited to this, it is supported by all Muslims, many Latin Americans support it. People generally love him for what he represents.
But Habib did not tell you that in Russia not all support his words and understand the motives of his act and consider that it was wrong?
No, we did not say that someone in Russia disapproves of his act. I did not know that. I know that most people here in the US understand why he did it and support it.
And in your opinion regarding Habib’s strike, do you think at the moment he brought her to the best level for himself or can he become even better?
He is very good at hitting now, but he has a lot to learn. There is still a lot of work ahead. But I will say this. Habib is able to achieve anything. Habib loves severe trials, and so far, the trials that stood before him he passed. So, if Habib wants to try himself in another sport, maybe just in a strike, he may well achieve this, because mentally he is very strong, in all aspects, and physically he is very gifted, so he can do just about anything. He fought with bears, after all.
What do you think about what Habib says about a possible fight with Floid Mayweather in boxing?
You know, if Habib wants to fight Mayweather in boxing, he can do it, but we will not box with him. This is not an option. We will need to fight him like a bear. We will need to fly at him and constantly attack, then there is a chance. But if we just box, then there is no chance. Zero chance. But, if we fight, as in a real street fight, constantly move forward, then we have a chance. Wedge. In general, go ahead, but do not box. It is a street fight, not very technical. It is possible to win such a fight, but it is pure boxing, of course not.
If, however, this fight will take place, will you agree to prepare Habib for it?
Yes, of course I would have prepared it. I know about what to do. This is not an easy task, but Habib is strong enough mentally to crank up such an upset.
Habib has said many times that you are very similar to his father. Has he ever told you personally what exactly, in what qualities does this similarity with Abdulmanap show?
Yes, he told me that I, he and his father think in approximately the same way, and as I said, it is for this reason that his father never tells me what to do, because he knows that I will do everything in the best way. And it always has been. I always do everything as competently as possible and with great respect, I do everything from the position of his father, because I know what he wants.
In your opinion, with whom Khabib should fight in the next fight? Could it be Ferguson or again Macgregor? What do you think?
As a coach, I want a fight that will bring Habib the greatest benefit and there is no more fight than a re-match with Conor. I want him to earn as much as possible and to declare himself as loudly as possible, so I want a fight with Conor, but Habib thinks in a slightly different way. He thinks: “I want to do the right thing,” so I do not rule out that Habib is more inclined towards Tony. His father may be leaning toward Tony, but I want him to earn as much money as possible for his career, so I want a re-fight with Conor. Because if Conor deserves the right to fight Habib again, this fight will be huge, more than the first fight. And of course I want to see in the list of his achievements the largest battle in history. He already has it, but if they beat again, this fight will be twice as large. If everything is organized properly, they will calmly fill the stadium, I think this is the only venue. But again, no matter what I think, his father and Habib himself have the decisive word, not me. So they will do as his father decides. Habib will certainly listen first to the father, not me. It always has been, it always will be. But if you ask me, I want the biggest fee for it, but I don’t know what they want.
What do you think a potential duel with Tony Ferguson is more difficult than a re-match with Conor McGregor?
I think not. I think a fight with Tony would be easier than a fight with Conor. I think the fight with Conor was the hardest for us. For me at least, this fight was the hardest. People say that Tony will be the hardest opponent for Habib, but I don’t think so. I do not think that Tony is the hardest opponent. For me, Tony has a small chance if he dissects Habib with logty words, as for the threat of pain, I don’t see her very much, maybe in rare cases, but as for me this is simply not enough. The hardest opponent I think was Conor. And look what he did with this opponent. Tony is a very good fighter, but sorry, I don’t see any hardship in him for Habib.