Born in Germany to Afghan parents, Nasrat Haqparast is adamant that Khabib Nurmagomedov will treated like a superstar when he travels to Abu Dhabi to defend his lightweight title against Dustin Poirier on Sept. 7 at UFC 242.
“When they told me [UFC 242] was in September it was too long [to wait], my last fight was the end of October, my next fight was supposed to be in March but a small injury forced me out and I was waiting for a fight,” Haqparast told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“Abu Dhabi sounds amazing, but for me, I just wanted to stay as active as possible… if I can fight two or three times this year it would be amazing. I always stay in shape, I’m always training and it’s not the last time the UFC will be coming to Abu Dhabi… I think the UFC signed a four- or five-year contract so they’re going to be back next year.”
“For me, it’s not so important where I fight, what card I’m on or how big the event is, for me I just love to fight; I love the competition and I want to stay as active as possible,” he added.
Nurmagomedov became a star through his highly publicized clash with Conor McGregor at UFC 229 last year. Citing the press conference in which the Irishman offered Nurmagomedov, a devout Muslim, a glass of whiskey, Haqparast highlighted why he believes family and religion should be left out of pre-fight trash talk.
“In my opinion, what Conor did there was not good. You should never attack family or religion. Of course trash talk promotes a fight, so it’s important. It’s Conor’s thing to trash talk, but family and religion is a line that you should not cross. Khabib stayed very calm, his reaction [to Conor offering him whiskey at the UFC 229 press conference] really impressed me. How many people can be calm in this situation? I am a really religious person too.”
Based on the growth of his celebrity over the last year, Haqparast believes Nurmagomedov will receive a hero’s welcome in Abu Dhabi next month.
“In Abu Dhabi, [Khabib] is going to be a superstar. We have a lot of support, it’s amazing, from these countries. The people there are really passionate. In Afghanistan for example, I represent Afghanistan when I fight because they don’t have many [people to support] in the UFC or in Combat sports. I want to be a role model for our people, everybody. But especially for people who are poor and who don’t think they have a big chance in life. Even if I can just motivate five people out of millions I’m happy, I’ve done something good in this world,” he said.
“For sure, Khabib is going to be a superstar in Abu Dhabi—it’s going to be an amazing atmosphere, I look forward to it.”