The lesser-known Nurmagomedov enjoyed an emphatic second-round win over former M-1 champion Sergey Morozov on Wednesday, leaving Mendez beaming when he was asked about the rear naked choke finish.
Revered coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who was Khabib’s father and the mentor and mastermind behind the camp and its succession of terrific talents, has clearly left a lasting legacy after his tragic passing from Covid-19 complications at the age of 57 last July.
“We got a little bit comfortable,” explained Mendez, discussing the opening round on “Fight Island”.
“Then I said, ‘we go into father’s plan’. Basically, as soon as I said ‘father’s plan’, he went right into it.”
The phrase is one that Mendez could often be heard saying while he watched Khabib in sparring, telling the lightweight champion to deploy the inspirational knowledge his father had imparted to him – particularly his fearsome ground game.
Umar also heeded that direction in decisive fashion, choking Morozov until he was unconscious before being congratulated by Khabib in the octagon.
“It was a great first-time performance – I was very pleased,” said Mendez, although Umar and Khabib had both emphasized that the 25-year-old Russian considered himself to have underperformed.
“We said kickboxing range to start off with, don’t get in close.
“I loved his performance – he fought fantastically, he did exactly what we asked him to do.”