Khabib Nurmagomedov is one of the best MMA fighters of all time.
The former UFC lightweight champion is undefeated throughout his entire career and vacated his belt after retiring from professional MMA.
He is most well-known for his skills inside the Octagon, but one of his most iconic trademarks is the big, wooly, fuzzy hat.
So, why does Khabib wear the hat all the time?
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s hat is called a Papakha, and it’s a traditional headwear in the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe/Western Asia, which his native land Dagestan, Russia, is a part of. He wears the hat as a tribute to his native culture and tradition.
Almost looking like a blonde afro wig, the big hat is made of sheepskin & wool and has major significance in the Dagestani culture.
It’s used to keep your head warm in the freezing mountains and as a symbol of strength and respect for men.
Khabib didn’t always wear the hat, though, and he has great reasons why he started doing so after he started competing in the UFC.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Khabib hat, Papakha, why Khabib is wearing it, and its significance in Dagestani and other cultures from the Caucasus region.
What Is Khabib’s Hat Called?
As I mentioned in the introduction, the hat usually associated with Khabib Nurmagomedov is called the Papakha.
A lot of fans think that it’s a wig because of its round, fuzzy appearance.
However, it’s not a wig, but a hat made out of warm sheepskin and wool adjusted with a rope to fit.
Men traditionally wear it in Dagestan for centuries. At first, it had no symbolic significance nor cultural value. It was simply an incredibly warm hat made to protect the head from freezing-cold conditions around the Caucasus mountains. 
As time progressed and the Papakha became a part of their cultural heritage, it also became a symbol of strength and endurance for every man that wears the hat.
Men who wear the Papakha represent the endurance and resilience needed to survive the harsh conditions they live in.
Nurmagomedov is from Dagestan, where the hat is very common. However, it’s not the only region of the world where the Papakha is worn.
Dagestan belongs to the Transcaucasus region, but all other regions around the Caucasus mountains are known to use the hat traditionally.
Why Does Khabib Nurmagomedov Wear That Hat?
Khabib Nurmagomedov has worn the Papakha so many times during his UFC career that it almost became synonymous to him.
He wears it during his walks to the Octagon before fights, on pre-fight face-offs, weigh-ins, media days, and even inside the octagon after his fights.
When the reporters asked him about the hat, he even stated that he never puts the hat with his luggage but always carries it with him.
Luggage tends to get lost, and the hat is too important to him to get lost, so he carries it with him.
Obviously, it has huge significance to him, so why does Khabib always wear the Papakha?
He explained his reasons a few years ago, claiming that he wanted to wear it to represent his native culture and country and show their traditions to the world.
He didn’t do it before he got into the UFC because he didn’t feel like the stage was big enough to make a difference.
He believes that Dagestan has an incredibly rich history and culture that the world should be acquainted with.
After he got to the big leagues, one of his friends suggested the Papakha to Khabib to represent Dagestan, and Nurmagomedov gladly agreed. After that, he never let go of his tradition, wearing the Papakha every single opportunity he has.
There are always those who make fun of everything they don’t understand, including Khabib’s Papakha.
Nevertheless, the Dagestani champion said he feels like it’s a huge honor to have the opportunity to represent his culture on such a global scale each time he shows his face in the media.
It seems that his plan is working, as numerous fans, officials, and even other fighters were interested in what the hat is all about.
After Khabib clarified the heritage of the Papakha to everyone, it became an incredibly popular accessory among MMA fans.
The UFC even started its own Papakha line: each of the hats is hand-made, and they sell them in their official store.
What Is the Significance of Khabib’s Hat?
The hat keeps your head warm even in the most extreme winter conditions.
However, it’s also obvious that the Papakha has more significance to Khabib and other people that traditionally have it in their culture.
As I mentioned, the Papakha is a symbol of strength among the men who wear it. It shows the man is capable of surviving the cold conditions using headwear that has centuries of tradition.
The headwear is well-respected among the people in that region.
Thanks to Khabib, it is now recognizable across the globe.
Also, you might have noticed that Khabib usually puts the hat on Joe Rogan (UFC’s color commentator and in-octagon reporter) after his fights when he comes to interview the fighters inside the octagon.
It might seem like a bit of fun between friends and associates, but it has a deeper meaning, too.
In Dagestani culture, giving your Papakha to another man is a sign of incredible respect towards the person you’re giving it to.
It’s not only a light-hearted gift but a sign of respect and honor, as it represents the entire Dagestani cultural heritage.
Khabib always treats his hat with a great amount of respect, and Joe Rogan is familiar with those traditions, so he always takes the Papakha with great pride and gratitude.
Now you know what Khabib’s famous hat is and what’s the meaning behind it.
It’s not a blonde afro wig like some people think, but a piece of history and tradition that the champion proudly represents every time he steps into the spotlight.