Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to take on Conor McGregor in UFC 229 on Saturday, October 6. In the days leading up to the fight, Nurmagomedov was spotted wearing an interesting hat. The accessory, which is called a papakha, has become a staple in Nurmagomedov’s wardrobe.
The hats are popular in many cultures. The papakha, sometimes spelled “papaha,” is described as a tall fur hat that is usually made of sheepskin.
Nurmagomedov wears his papakha as a nod to his upbringing. He was raised in Dagestan, Russia. The papakha is often worn by Dagestanis and other tribes of the Caucasus region. Men and male children wear the papakha year-round, according to the Encyclopedia of National Dress: Traditional Clothing Around the World.
“[My] Papakha represents where I am from. My small hometown in Dagestan,” he previously told Russia Today, according to the Mirror.
As for why Nurmagomedov wears the hat up until he fights, there seems to be a deeper meaning there.
“There are all kinds of superstitions around papakha, like you never take it off unless you fight the enemy. It’s like baring the blade of your sabre. If you take off the papakha, you don’t put it on again until you have completed the fight,” Vice reported back in 2014.
After UFC 205, Nurmagomedov put his papakha on Joe Rogan’s head while doing his post-match interview. You can check that out in the video below.
According to the Mirror, Nurmagomedov gifted a papakha to Cristiano Ronaldo after meeting the soccer star earlier this year. Ronaldo gave Nurmagomedov a t-shirt in return.
Nurmagomedov’s hat is so popular, in fact, that the hats are sold on Amazon with his name in the descriptions. For example, this one is selling for about $70.
“Famous MMA UFC fighter Habib Nurmagomedov’s headgear. Real papakha hats have a specific smell, which is normal for sheep fur NOT affected by industrial chemicals. Papakha is a symbol of pride and courage of Caucasian nations,” reads the item’s description.