Shavkat Rakhmonov’s Kazakh Hat: What Does It Signify and Which Animal Does It Represent

Published 12/14/2023, 8:58 AM EST

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Not everyone knows what it feels like to be the first from their country in the UFC. But for Shavkat Rakhmonov, it’s a badge of honor he wears proudly. That’s right, Rakhmonov stepped foot inside the Octagon as the very first Kazakh citizen competing for the promotion. So is it unexpected that he represents his culture every chance he gets?

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‘The Nomad’ is often seen sporting his country’s flag proudly as he enters the cage with his headdress on. During weigh-ins, the same gear is still visible, sitting on his head like a crown in its own right. So what does his headdress signify for him? Here’s all you need to know.

The Kazakh headdress of Shavkat Rakhmonov

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Shavkat Rakhmonov is a rising welterweight who has so far dominated every fighter inside the Octagon. During interviews and weigh-ins, his headdress is always on top. He once explained in an interview how the beautiful wolf-skin headdress was gifted to him by his people.

It was a gesture of pride for him. More importantly, it signifies his deep cultural ties to the place that he comes from. Being the first Kazakh fighter on the UFC’s roster is undoubtedly a big deal. And so far, he’s done nothing but bring pride.

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“It’s a traditional Kazakh headdress that our ancestors used to wear during the wintertimes to keep themselves warm,” Rahkmonov told Ariel Helwani of The MMA Hour Show. “Myself, I feel like it’s a very beautiful headdress, and wearing it, I get to represent my roots, represent my culture and tradition. Traditionally this headdress is usually made up out of a wolf or fox skin.”

Many could look at the headdress and see the fighter it could resemble. Undoubtedly, for many, it could invoke the image of former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Dagestani fighter who dominated his division back in his time. Will Rakhmonov be on the same level? Will his country’s pride give him great strength?

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Rakhmonov, strength out of pride

Rakhmonov expressed how he wished to buy the headdress for himself, but when people close to him found out, they just came together and gifted it to him instead. Clearly, he is a man with big dreams and deep connections to the soil he was born on. Is this the reason he is between 17 and 0 in his professional record?

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It could be. Even Nurmagomedov was an undefeated force of nature that never lost and exited the promotion with a professional record of 29-0. Is it a thing of great power—a headdress that represents one’s roots? Perhaps a blessing from the ancestors. Whatever it may be, its power and Rakhmonov’s determination will have a chance to prove themselves at UFC 296 as he battles it out against Stephen Thompson. Which wolf is hungrier?

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Written by:

Prit Chauhan

685Articles

One take at a time

I'm Prit Chauhan, and I'm a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. I've been in the writing business for three years, covering areas like mass media marketing, and even tried my hand at fiction. My experience includes research work at the University of California, Berkeley, which helps me spin fact-based stories about the world of Mixed Martial Arts effortlessly.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Kumar Das

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