July 4, 2020 / 4:28 AM / a month ago

MMA: Nurmagomedov's father Abdulmanap dies at 57

(Reuters) - UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father and coach Abdulmanap, has died aged 57 following a coronavirus infection this year, the mixed martial arts promotion company confirmed.

In hospital since May after testing positive, Abdulmanap had also had heart surgery for a pre-existing issue complicated by the respiratory disease.

“We’ve lost our backbone,” Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN on Friday. “He was a father, coach, brother, an icon. Things will never be the same without him.”

The UFC paid tribute to Abdulmanap, who earned the Master of Sports recognition in freestyle wrestling as an elite athlete and the title of Honoured Coach of Russia during his coaching career.

“Abdulmanap also played a pivotal role in the lives of countless Russian fighters who made their way to the top mixed martial arts events around the globe and his loss will be felt throughout the sporting world,” the UFC said in a statement.

Former two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor was among those in the mixed martial arts community to express regret.

“The loss of a father, a coach, and a dedicated supporter of the sport,” McGregor said on Twitter. “Condolences and rest in peace Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.”

Interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, who next faces Khabib for the undisputed crown, tweeted: “So heartbreaking to hear this news of the legend Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

“I’m very sorry @TeamKhabib. Your dad passed with a heart full of pride knowing you will carry on his legacy.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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