Nurmagomedov has repeatedly reminded folks during his UFC run that he has a massive fanbase in Russia, since sometimes this gets overlooked over here in North America. After all, Russia has a population of over 140 million people.
Well, recently Lobov talked about Nurmagomedov’s popularity in Russia, while speaking to MMA Fighting. Lobov theorized that some of Nurmagomedov’s popularity in their country, is due to Lobov’s buddy, Conor McGregor. The argument being that McGregor has made MMA a bigger sport in Russia, and that as a result, Nurmagomedov’s profile also rose.
But, Lobov also had this to say about the undefeated lightweight:
“A lot of people in Russian aren’t happy with how Khabib has been behaving with all of his pullouts,” Lobov said, “This isn’t a very manly thing to do, not showing up for a fight. In Russia, the people have been brought up tough. It used to be the Soviet Union. The thing everybody thinks of when they think about Russia is how tough the people are.
“When they see a fighter continuously pulling out, that’s something that they really don’t like. Then they look at a guy like Conor who always shows up and does what he says he’s going to do. That really resonates with the Russian public.”
Now, clearly, Nurmagomedov might question some of the things Lobov said here, on account of the fact he’s McGregor’s teammate and friend.
But, there’s no question that Nurmagomedov’s been on the sidelines, a ton, in recent years. Since 2013, “The Eagle” has only fought three times due to injuries and medical issues, and Nurmagomedov has yet to fight this year. So, it’s been a frustrating couple of years for fans of the vaunted grappler, no question.
Lobov, meanwhile, is booked to fight Andre Fili at UFC Fight Night 118 on October 21st.