Shocking footage shows Conor McGregor's opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov wrestling a bear as a child
It's fair to say that the upcoming bout between Irish fighter Conor McGregor and opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov has got plenty of UFC fans excited. Now typically, when it comes to McGregor, his supporters have little to worry about, as the fighter is a legend in the ring with countless victories to his name. However, when he faces the Russian mixed-martial artist at UFC 229, he's facing a fighter who is well-known as one of the most ferocious wrestlers in the game, who has flattened almost all of his opponents inside the Octagon. He's already won 26 straight fights and earned his spot in the top ten pound-for-pound rankings.
However, a recent video of the wrestler, which has gone viral on social media, has now managed to tarnish his reputation. The video appears to show Nurmagomedov as a child, wrestling a bear which is wearing a leash, in Dagestan. The footage of the blatant animal cruelty has incensed online commenters, and many viewers have taken to Twitter to express their outrage over the clip.
In a recent interview defending the footage, Khabib's father Abdulmanap stated that the bear wrestling was apparently meant to test his son’s character, telling ToFight.Ru: "Firstly, a child always wants his father to see what his son is capable of. It is a pity that there was nothing more interesting when he was younger. In the end, this was a test of character more than exercise."
When shown the bear-wrestling footage on a recent episode of the Conan O'Brien show, McGregor appeared unintimidated, stating: " I believe he has many weaknesses in his game. The Dagestan region specializes in wrestling. The kid wrestled bears when he was a baby. It’s part of their culture. I am under no illusions, he is a skilled wrestler."
He added: "Of course, fighting in the whole picture, there’s many more facets to fighting. A lot more than one single discipline. Thankfully now I’m not specific ruleset similar to my last match [with Floyd Mayweather]. I am free fight as I please. So that’s what I will do. I have many, many weapons to dismantle all styles of opponent. This is just another style of opponent. I believe he’s slow, flat-footed. His striking is very average, and I look to expose that on Saturday night."
Khabib Nurmagomedov was born in 1988 in the village of Sildi in Tsumadinsky District of Dagestan. He was passionate about martial arts from an early age. His father even converted the ground floor of their two-story building into a gym, and Khabib became fascinated by the students training there. He started wrestling himself the age of eight under his father's tutelage and began learning Judo and combat sambo as a teenager. Hot-headed and spirited, Nurmagomedov would often frequently get into physical altercations as a youth before he went pro.
It remains to be seen what impact the bear wrestling video will have upon his reputation, but it if the clip was meant to act as black propaganda to put the fear into McGregor, it doesn't appear to have worked.