The UFC lightweight champion asked the Russian president to help Ziyavudin Magomedov, the oligarch arrested on embezzlement charges.
On Saturday night, the UFC crowned its first Dagestani champion when Khabib Nurmagomedov secured the lightweight title with a unanimous decision victory against Al Iaquinta. However, while Nurmagomedov’s victory was a milestone for North Caucasus and Muslim fighters, he used his post-fight interview to make a political statement.
Following a standard post-fight interview, where Khabib thanked his father, coach Javier Mendez, and his management team in English, the newly minted champion finished off statement by appealing to Russian president Vladimir Putin to “help” Ziyavudin Magomedov, the oligarch who was arrested last week on embezzlement and organized crime charges.
”Our elder brother is a co-owner of our team Ziyavudin Magomedov is in a difficult situation,” Khabib said in Russian during the UFC 223 PPV. “He was very helpful to me and other athletes from Russia. Now he has problems, but I want him to know that we, the athletes, are praying for him. I believe that this situation will soon be resolved. I hope that our leader Vladimir Putin will help him. I want to congratulate him on the victory in the last election.”
Magomedov was arrested on March 31 and charged with embezzling over 2 billion rubles ($35 million +), fraud, and the “organization of a criminal community.” According to Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Magomedov has been under investigation for several months to determine whether he embezzled money during the construction of a World Cup stadium in Kaliningrad, which his Summa Group company won the rights to build in 2014. He was denied bail and his awaiting his upcoming trial on May 30. If found guilty, Magomedov could face up to 20 years in prison.
Magomedov, whose wealth is estimated at $1.4 billion, is an avid sports fan who has invested significant sums into Russian mixed martial arts. He is the co-owner of Fight Nights Global, one of the most successful and popular promotions in the country. He also founded the Eagles MMA fight team, which UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov is currently president of.
Magomedov also financially supports several fighters, including the UFC lightweight champ. Magomedov paid for the UFC fighter’s back surgery in 2017, which was done in Germany, and funded the majority of Khabib’s expenses during training camps. Given his pivotal contributions to the development of the sport in the region, his potential incarceration could bring about significant long-term change in the sport.
Given that Magomedov is currently under arrest, Khabib was reluctant to translate his statement when asked to by Joe Rogan during the broadcast.
“It is a little bit hard for me. I talk about my big brother, Ziyavudin Magomedov. I want to wish him good luck.”