Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of professional MMA, where an undefeated UFC champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is now a football player for a third-tier Russian team. Only in this sport, where WWE superstars can transition to the highest leagues regardless of previous combat sports experience and Olympic wrestlers can take boxing matches against YouTube personalities, does this kind of news story ever even come close to becoming a reality.
Even in this world, the news of Khabib Nurmagomedov signing a contract to play football for FC Legion Dynamo is still something that’s going to raise a few eyebrows. After all, it’s not as if many people have actually seen Nurmagomedov play and he’s never made a particularly big deal about his love for the sport either. It has been almost a year since he hung up his gloves and decided to retire from MMA at the very top of the sport after defending his UFC title back at UFC 254, so it makes sense that after a little time to relax he’s eager to move on to the next stage of his life and he did hint at this move being a possibility as early as January this year:
Preparing for my football debut ⚽️
I’m free agent, and ready to accept offers.
Готовлюсь к дебюту на большом футболе, жду предложения, будем рассматривать. https://t.co/V2NlBX5iqD
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) January 24, 2021
Still, not many people would have paid much attention to that tweet and even fewer again would have taken it seriously. His most recent moves have made a lot more logical sense, like partnering with BJJ Fanatics to release an instructional on his style of grappling for MMA. But then, in the early hours of the morning a post appeared on the official Instagram account of FC Legion Dynamo to reveal that they had managed to convince Nurmagomedov to put pen to paper and sign on to represent their team: