What’s that hat on Khabib Nurmagomedov’s head?

Once you put down the Papakha, it means you can wear it back once you complete the fight and you don't remove it unless you have to fight an enemy.

After the undefeated UFC champion Khabib “the eagle”  Nurmagomedov defended his title against Conor Mcgregor on Sunday 7 Oct, Khabib shot to fame in no time. With so much controversy going around the fights, the off the ring brawls between the two sports rivals, McGregor went as far as attacking the UFC bus and injuring four of the UFC wrestlers, calling him a Muslim Rat and offering him Whiskey in a press conference . Popularly known as Khabib “the eagle” Nurmagomedov was born  on Sept 20, 1988 , in Dagestan a republic of Russian federation, where he started his wrestling career at a very tender age. The Dagestan eagle practiced his throws with actual bears as what is wrestling tradition in the mountainous region of Dagestan. He was trained by his father, a former Sando wrestler in his makeshift gym. Standing at 5’10” and weighing 70kgs, Khabib has remained undefeated in his 27 bouts of his UFC career. This was by far the most controversial fight of 2018 where the fight escalated even outside of the ring.

With so much hue and cry over the Khabibs action of jumping over the ring and going after the team members of Conor after winning the fight, UFC decided to stay the check of two million USD of the Russian champ until the case is settled. The fans stay divided on the issue. However lets not go into the controversial things and come back to the Eagle. Khabib wears a cap in almost every one of his bout. The blonde wig or pom-pom resembling distinctive hat is known as Papakha or Astarkhan hat in English and is native to his homeland in Dagestan. It symbolizes pride in his Avar culture. Khabib belongs to the Avar tribe, the people of this tribe offered the most strong resistance to Russia in the Caucasus  war led by Imam Shamil in the 19th century.

Papakha are of two types: Papaha and Kubanka. The hat is also worn in Pshavi, Khevi, Mtiuleti, Tusheti , Chechnya  and other Caucasus tribes but in Dagestan it forms an important part of ones personality . The Papakha became part of the Russian army in 1855 for the first time.

Russian man wearing a Papakha

In the past the hat was worn by Shepherds who were believed to be very strong and it became part of Russian uniform during world war 1. The wearing of cap symbolizes an ethnic pride of being an Avar ,the strength of being associated with the tribe and perhaps Khabib wants to represent his belonging to his culture. Apart from Papakha, Avar’s wore beautiful  daggers around them. In Soviet times, there were amendments in the Russian constitution which barred people from carrying weapons unless it was part of their culture. The arrangements were for  the people of Dagestan who carried Papakha and beautiful daggers as a part of their culture.

Once you put down the Papakha, it means you can wear it once you complete the fight and you don’t remove it unless you have to fight an enemy. It’s believed in Dagestan, if a man puts down his Papakha, no one will dare to touch it because there has to be a serious reason as why the owner took it off.

It forms an important etiquette of a Dagestani man. As they say in Dagestan, if you need advice, talk to your hat. So, may the Papakha always stay on your champs head with pride and  love in his heart.

Other Titles held by Khabib:

    • 2013 Breakthrough Fighter of the Year.
    • 2016 Beatdown of the Year 
    • 2016 Comeback Fighter of the Year
  • Fightbooth.com
    • 2013 Staredown of the Year 
  • MMAdna.nl
    • 2017 Performance of the Year
  • World MMA Awards
    • 2016 International Fighter of the Year.


  • World Combat Sambo Federation
    • 2009 World Combat Sambo Championships (-74 kg) Gold Medalist.
    • 2010 World Cup in Combat Sambo (-82 kg) Silver Medalist
    • 2010 World Combat Sambo Championships (-82 kg) Gold Medalist.
  • Combat Sambo Federation of Russia
    • 2009 Russian Combat Sambo Championships (-74 kg) Gold Medalist
  • All-Russian Sambo Federation
    • Russian Combat Sambo National Championships 21st 


  • NAGA World Championship
    • 2012 Men’s No-Gi Expert Welterweight Champion
    • 2012 ADCC Rules No-Gi Expert Welterweight Champion 

ARB (Army Hand-to-Hand Combat)

  • Russian Union of Martial Arts
    • European Champion of Army Hand-to-Hand Combat


  • International Pankration federation
    • European Pankration Champion
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