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Why does Khabib Nurmagomedov wear that hat?

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Nurmagomedov’s hat is native to Dagestan, a federal subject of Russia.

Khabib Nurmagomedov will face Conor McGregor for the lightweight crown in UFC 229 on Saturday, and viewers will be treated to a unique sartorial choice from the favored Nurmagomedov.

Hailing from the Russian-controlled region of Dagestan, Nurmagomedov is often seen wearing a fuzzy blond hat on his head, most commonly when he enters the ring or appears at a pre-fight press conference. So what’s the story behind Nurmagomedov’s headgear? Here’s what you need to know.

Nurmagomedov hat is called a papakha (pronounced “puh-pah-hah”), native to Dagestan, a Russian territory just west of the Caspian Sea. First seen in the 16th century, the papakha is made out of sheep skin. According to New York University Abu Dhabi professor Georgi Derlugian, the papakha is native to Dagestan’s “Avar culture.”

“This is a warrior, mountain clan, and this is what their shepherds wear,” Derlugian told Vice’s Jeff Harder. 

Nurmagomedov and his papakha will next be seen on Saturday night when Nurmagomedov squares off against McGregor at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight is expected to begin at 10 p.m. ET. 

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