14 Lessons from Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Mindset

One of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, Khabib Nurmagomedov did not get his status by only being tough. There were traits he honed to make him a champion that left behind an enduring legacy.

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s mindset is a blueprint for any person who wants to achieve great heights in any discipline. It is no easy feat to retire undefeated (29-0) from the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) where one wrong move can spell doom. Ever since becoming a professional fighter in 2008, Khabib has outclassed his opponents and racked up a record that puts him among the elites of the sport.

So, what makes him unique?

His mindset gives us valuable lessons that tell a deeper story about him and how anyone with the right mindset can achieve great heights in life.

Here is what we can learn from the Khabib Nurmagomedov Mindset.

1. Believe in God

Khabib Nurmagomedov is a religious person.

The discipline in his life has its roots in the discipline his religion teaches him.

He is a practicing Muslim who is devout to all the teachings and traditions of his religion.

His belief in his religion and its teachings give him a yardstick to measure himself against.

This recenters him and connects him with his inner-self to draw upon strength during times of uncertainty and doubt.

This is one of the greatest weapons of Khabib because it is tied to his identity.

He wields it well and measures himself against it to make progress.

2. Education First

Khabib’s father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov always put education first.

He believed that brawn without brains is of no use.

Khabib was required to put his concentration on studies as much as on sports.

This has served him well because he is one of the few fighters who is also a good thinker inside and outside the octagon.

Khabib likes to say that learning has no age. He learns and grows as a person every day.

3. Desire

Great achievements start with a desire.

You must desire it first.

Khabib’s advice to upcoming fighters is that they must desire what they want to achieve.

Without desire, there is no fire to quench.

4. Discipline

After desire comes the discipline.

Once you have set your eyes on a goal, you must be disciplined to achieve it.

Khabib is disciplined in his approach to all his fights.

This is known by the fact that he does not take short-notice fights.

He takes his time to prepare for his fights and is disciplined in his routine.

Even outside of fighting, he is disciplined in all his work.

5. Hard Work

There is no substitute for hard work.

Khabib knows this more than anyone.

In his career, he is bogged more than anything else by injuries – because he trains so hard.

He acknowledges that to stay at the top you have to train hard.

6. Focus on the Goal

Khabib Nurmagomedov never keeps his eyes off the prize.

He is focused on his goal.

As he was climbing up the ranks in the lightweight division of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), he always made it clear that his goal was to become the champion.

He did not waver from the goal he set for himself.

And, he did achieve it in UFC 223 on April 7, 2018, when he became the UFC Lightweight World Champion.

He then set his sights on leaving behind a great legacy which he did when he retired undefeated after his last fight in UFC 254.

7. Be Smart

Khabib Nurmagomedov is a smart person.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani before UFC 223, Khabib said that he is both smart and tough.

He understood that to achieve his goal of retiring undefeated he had to carefully plan his path by not taking short-notice fights, staying hungry and disciplined even as a champion, learning every day, and not be distracted by the growing attention from media and fans.

8. Control Your Emotions

Khabib understood that he had to control his emotions to become a great champion who left behind a legacy to remember.

This was evident in the build-up to the Conor McGregor fight that took place in UFC 229.

Coming from religious and respectful culture, Khabib was triggered with a barrage of insults about his family, father, religion, and nation by Conor McGregor.

Khabib remained calm throughout the build-up with only a few frustrations towards the insults. He managed to control his emotions and stay calm.

It was only during the highly emotional moments after the fight that he uncharacteristically jumped out of the octagon to attack Dillon Danis, a teammate of Conor McGregor who was insulting him throughout the fight.

Khabib Nurmagomedov will always be remembered as a symbol of remaining calm under pressure by controlling his emotions.

9. Be Patient

As the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait“, Khabib had been patient throughout his UFC career waiting for his title shot to begin to cement his legacy as the greatest lightweight fighter of all time.

He planned his route to creating history and took time to analyze, step back, and be patient.

In his interview with Kevin Iole for Yahoo! Sports before UFC 254, Khabib talked about his teammate and training partner, Islam Makhachev who was having a hard time finding his next opponent. He said to Kevin that he told Islam to be patient because his time would eventually come. Khabib recollected the time he was in a similar position as Islam when he couldn’t find fighters to fight him.

10. Surround Yourself with Good People

Khabib walks around with a group of close friends, family members, and training partners around him. It is not that he finds refuge within a group. He says that he surrounds himself with good people to make him a better person.

Khabib says that when he is with his group everyone supports one another and prevents one another from making mistakes.

11. Stay Humble

Khabib Nurmagomedov likes to remain humble.

He understands that becoming arrogant and cocky can be self-destructive and bad for others around him.

He is mindful of his actions and makes sure to stay humble.

12. Be Respectful

Khabib comes from a respectful culture.

From a young age, he is taught the importance of respecting elders, customs, traditions, and strangers.

He is respectful towards all his opponents and does not like getting into trash talks.

He is an ideal role model for young people around the world who are constantly tempted by the glitz and glamor of being a brash to get what they want.

13. Give Back

Khabib Nurmagomedov always gives back.

He is generous with his time and attention to his family, friends, and training partners.

He likes to help people and has a selfless attitude towards life.

14. Be a Good Role Model

Khabib Nurmagomedov is mindful of the picture he portrays to the world.

He knows that he is a celebrity in his own right and makes sure to be a good role model for the younger generation.

In his interview with TMZ Sports before the Conor McGregor fight, he talked about why he doesn’t cuss and why it is important to be a good role model.


With the end to an amazing career after his win over Justin Gaethje in UFC 254, Khabib is now focused on his business ventures. He made a promise to his mother that the fight against Gaethje will be the last of his career after his father passed away in July.


Featured Image Credits:Русский: Хабиб Нурмагомедов на встрече с В. Путиным. 12.9.2019 г.”, by Администрация Президента РФ, licensed under CC BY 4.0

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