Bang for Buck: How Khabib Nurmagomedov turned his UFC winnings into a business empire

In the wake of his retirement at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov met with a group of students in Derbent, Dagestan, where he described his…

By: Karim Zidan | 1 year ago
Bang for Buck: How Khabib Nurmagomedov turned his UFC winnings into a business empire
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

In the wake of his retirement at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov met with a group of students in Derbent, Dagestan, where he described his plans over the coming years.

“I’ve bought sheep, I tend to my farm,” Nurmagomedov reportedly said. “I have the bull calves out to feed, I have cows.”

While Nurmagomedov may have been serious about his interest in the field of agriculture, his response hardly summed up the scope of the former UFC lightweight champion’s business ventures and investment portfolio since his retirement.

Nurmagomedov has a reported net worth of $40 million, though his late father Abdulmanap previously told Russian media that his son’s value was closer to $100 million. Much of his acquired wealth stems from his career earnings since joining the UFC in 2012, notable sponsorships (Toyota, Reebok, Gorilla Energy Drink), as well as speaking engagements.

Having amassed a substantial fortune, Nurmagomedov has launched more than a dozen ventures, including mixed martial arts gyms, a sports management agency, a cell phone network, and a chain of fast-food restaurants. He also runs his own mixed martial arts promotion.

Nurmagomedov’s growing list of assets and investments emphasizes the former fighter’s business savvy, as well as his determination to secure a livelihood that is not dependent on his fighting credentials. His lengthy portfolio also sheds light on Nurmagomedov’s values, his current interests, as well as his ambitions in countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

MMA & Sports Ventures

Among Nurmagomedov’s earliest post-retirement investments was his acquisition of Russian MMA organization Gorilla Fighting Championship (GFC), which he purchased for $1 million. The organization was rebranded as Eagle FC—a callback to his “The Eagle” nickname—and quickly emerged as one of the more prominent combat sports entities in Russia.

Over the past year, Eagle FC has held events in various locations across Russia and its neighboring states, including Moscow, Sochi, Dagestan, Almaty (Kazakhstan), and Issyk Kul (Kyrgyzstan). Most recently, the organization held its U.S. debut last month in Miami, Florida, where notable journeymen and former UFC fighters such as Rashad Evans, Sergei Kharitonov and Ray Borg earned wins.

Nurmagomedov, who previously revealed that he planned to sign 50 or more fighters to Eagle FC contracts in the coming year, has made it clear that he wants his organization to be taken seriously on the world stage. Apart from offering Jake Paul—the controversial YouTuber turned boxer—a contract, the former UFC champion warned leading MMA promotions that if they mistreated their fighters, he wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of the situation.

“I just want to say careful because if they don’t treat their fighters good, Eagle FC is here,” Nurmagomedov said during the post-event press conference Friday.

Photo by Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images

While his MMA organization continues to make headlines, Nurmagomedov has also quietly opened a network of fitness centers named Khabib Gym, with plans to expand to London and across the Middle East. He also reportedly plans to open a combat sports academy named after his late father, Abdulmanap, who succumbed to COVID-19 in 2020.

Beyond his immediate MMA ventures, Nurmagomedov recently started a football (soccer) management agency alongside former Dutch football player and manager Clarence Seedorf. The duo also created a football academy known as the Seedorf Khabib Performance Club, which will combine “sports and social abilities with a training methodology which combines football and mixed martial arts.” The academy was founded in Dubai and boasts global partners such as the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a government entity established in 2002 to enhance commodity trade flows through Dubai.

“The UAE is a country that knows how to reach its goals,” Nurmagomedov said. “This is where my new chapter begins. I believe and eagerly invest in this country.”

Though Nurmagomedov’s sports and fitness investments will likely draw the most attention due to his status as one of the greatest fighters of all time, it represents merely a portion of his overall portfolio and current revenue streams.

Fast Food Chains & Real Estate

On Oct. 8, 2021, Nurmagomedov revealed plans to invest in an apartment complex project in Turkey called the “Al Firdaus Residence and Halal Complex.”

The announcement, which was published on the former fighter’s Instagram account, came less than a month after the fighter visited Turkey at the invitation of Kurt Safir, one of the largest construction companies in the Alanya region. After spending time with company officials and inspecting the region and construction site, Nurmagomedov agreed to invest in the group’s latest project.

A key selling point for Nurmagomedov was the fact that the residence project was in compliance with Islamic traditions, with clear divisions in social infrastructure for men and women.

“This is private housing, 5-star level apartments and social infrastructure of 2500 sq.m. separated for men and women: swimming pools, hamams, a cafe, praying rooms, family restaurant etc,” Nurmagomedov wrote on Instagram. “The complex meets all the requirements of Muslims!”

Khabib Nurmagomedov poses for a photo during his visit to invest in construction in Turkey
Photo by Mustafa Kurt/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

KurtSafir has already started using Nurmagomedov’s name to sell units. The retired fighter is featured prominently on the construction group’s homepage, along with the caption, “Khabib Nurmagomedov has invested in our project Alfirdaus Residence. He said that he will continue to invest in property from our company.”

Though the extent of Nurmagomedov’s investment was not revealed, it marked his first significant move in the world of real estate. Two months later, he would make another significant investment by starting a new fast food chain called M-eat by Khabib.

The franchise, which sells a variety of stewed meats, including chicken, beef, and horse, has already launched its first store inside the City of Capitals skyscraper in Moscow, Russia. The chain is managed by Nurmagomedov’s company M-eat Group Franchising, which plans to open another 14 locations in Moscow over the next few months, as well as another 150 by the end of 2023 in countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and the UAE.

The company, which marked Nurmagomedov’s latest hospitality venture since opening a coffee shop in his native Makhachkala last year, also plans to erect a factory in Russia with the intention of producing ingredients for the chain and possibly selling products in grocery stores.

Nurmagomedov also launched his own mobile network in Russia called Eagle Mobile, which offered a loyalty plan allowing users to get merchandise signed by the former fighter. However, the network is only available in the Moscow region, limiting its potential user base significantly.

The retired fighter has also launched two new products: a protein bar called Fitroo by Khabib and PH TOP Alkaline Water. The Fitroo bar’s is intended to maintain healthy blood sugar levels through a mixture of high protein and low sugar, and is available in flavors such as caramel, vanilla, and banana. The bar also comes with a graphic of Nurmagomedov posing in his papakha hat.

Khabib promoting PH Top Alkaline Water

The PH Top Alkaline Water claims to replenish salt loss during exercise while strengthening the immune system. “It is safe and healthy for everyday consumption for adults, children, pregnant and elderly people. We have created this water according to comprehensive quality standards and up-to-date manufacturing technology, and developed a unique formula of PH TOP water which carries a blend of numerous positive effects,” read the statement on the PH Top water website.

Though the product was featured on Esquire, it is worth noting that there is little scientific evidence supporting the health claims regarding alkalized water. In fact, alkalized water was labeled as “absurd, ridiculous, ludicrous, preposterous, comical, and farcical” by the McGill Office for Science and Society.

The products are being distributed exclusively in the United Arab Emirates.

Crypto & Misc. Sponsorships

Given the diversity of Nurmagomedov’s business ventures, it came as no surprise when the retired fighter joined in on the NFT craze.

The Dagestani native released a video Mar. 29, 2021, announcing his official digital cards collection, which were divided into three series: gold, platinum and diamond, the latter of which comes with the opportunity to meet the fighter in person. Gold cards, limited to 290, were initially sold for $2,900.

Two weeks later, Nurmagomedov took to social media to inform fans to expect delays with their purchases due to the “high demand for the cards.” The cards have since sold out, though more than 100 of them are being offered for resale on, the largest NFT marketplace. Prices range from $1,000,000 to $3600 for the gold cards, though it is worth noting that none of the cards offered for resale have been purchased at current asking prices, meaning that the cards are unlikely to go up in value.

Khabib’s NFT collection

Then, at the Future Innovation Summit that took place in Dubai in October 2021, Nurmagomedov announced that he had accepted the role of ambassador for GMT token, a cryptocurrency reportedly used to mine Bitcoin (BTC). Nurmagomedov referred to it as the “most advanced token in the world.”

“There is no doubt that in 2021 technology has changed the world,” Nurmagomedov continued on Instagram. “Blockchain is as much a breakthrough as the Internet. I believe that in the near future, blockchain and bitcoin will replace the financial institutions we are used to and become the main payment system in the world.”

While GMT Token claims to allow users to “mine” Bitcoin without purchasing expensive equipment, that is technically not the case. Each GMT is backed by an actual unit of computing power of 0,001177TH/s via SHA-256 protocol. By purchasing 1GMT, you acquire 0,001177TH/s of actual computing power of our fleet of devices that are already mining BTC, enabling you daily mining income. The release of tokens is carried out through the use of smart contracts and Ethereum blockchain platform.

It is worth noting that the GMT token, much like the rest of the cryptocurrency space, is highly volatile and a far riskier investment than traditional options. In GMT’s case, the token has lost more than 50 percent of its total value since Nurmagomedov first promoted it four months ago.

Ironically, while Nurmagomedov has pushed questionable investment options such as NFTs and controversial cryptocurrencies on his followers, he has also become the brand ambassador for Wahed Inc, a fintech company known for ethical and halal investing, in September 2021. His role will be to promote financial inclusion around the world and to promote financial literacy to his millions of Muslim followers.

“I love Wahed because it’s halal, simple, and I believe we should all manage our money responsibly,” Nurmagomedov said in the press release. “I am fortunate to have millions of fans and am proud to have represented them all around the world.”

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Nurmagomedov has also juggled a variety of corporate sponsors over the past few years. He teamed up with Jacob & Co. to create four limited edition timepieces; promoted black cumin oil for Al Hadaya; signed a three-year deal with Gorilla Energy Drink, and maintained sponsorships with Toyota and Reebok, though the value of these deals has not been disclosed.

MMA fighters, including those who fought for the UFC, hardly ever retire with enough money to secure their futures. Nurmagomedov is one of the rare exceptions.Through ambitious investments and a collection of corporate partnerships, Nurmagomedov has proven to be one of the few fighters to turn his career winnings into a burgeoning business empire.

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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