UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov left his own press conference in Moscow on Thursday before it had even begun, leading to speculation over what had caused the MMA star’s early exit.
The press conference, which was supposed to be Khabib’s first public appearance in his home country following his victory over Dustin Poirier at UFC 242, was organized by Gorilla Energy Drink, one of the main sponsors of the lightweight king and his teammates.
The heavily attended media event was supposed to start at 11am.
Forty minutes after the scheduled beginning, an announcement was made that it was postponed due to technical issues, and when some members of the media left the press room, they finally caught a glimpse of the man they’d been waiting for – just to see him leaving the building.
Khabib’s cousin, Umar Nurmagomedov, and team member Tagir Ulanbekov had to take the stage in his absence to answer questions.
The reason for the champ’s hasty retreat remains unclear, although there are rumors it was because he was to be seated on the stage next to Igor Kim, the head of the Moscow Brewing Factory, which owns Gorilla Energy Drink – and while affiliating himself with the energy drink would not conflict with Khabib’s beliefs, associating with a beer company would, since Nurmagomedov is known to be a devout Muslim.
The organizers of the event, however, had a different story.
“He has a meeting in the Kremlin in the next hour,” the meeting’s host, Alexander Zagorsky, said.
However, this version does not seem to line up with the fact that one of Khabib’s friends posted a video of him running on a treadmill within an hour of his sudden departure.