Khabib Nurmagomedov extended his unbeaten career record to 29-0 with a slick arm triangle choke finish against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, but the sting in the tail is his post-fight announcement that he’s retiring from the sport with immediate effect.
The 32-year-old Nurmagomedov, who lost his father / coach Abdulmanap Nurmamagomedov due to Covid-19 complications earlier in the year wept uncontrollably for some time while knelt down in the center of the Octagon after his second round submission victory and then announced the news in his post-fight interview immediately afterwards.
“”God give me everything. This was my last fight. No way I can come here without my father. … I promise it will be my last fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “If I give my word, I have to follow this.”
“After what happened with my father, when UFC called my about Justin I talked with my mother for three days.
“She warned me not to fight without father, but I promised her it was going to be my last fight.”
If this was to be his last fight then Nurmagomedov retires at the very summit of the MMA mountain with a perfect 29-0 record, including 13 victories inside the UFC’s Octagon and three successful title defenses, leaving him in the reckoning as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the history of the sport.
As such Khabib’s retirement will be hard to accept for his loyal supporters and fans of the sport in general, given that he’s still at his peak and had so much still to offer, including the potential for a blockbuster rematch with Conor McGregor, and even more inticingly for ‘The Eagle’ himself, the possibility of a super-fight with another legend in the shape of Georges St-Pierre.
Speaking of McGregor, the Irish superstar buried the hatchet and spoke out to wish his rival well just minutes after seeing his retirement announcement.
“Good performance @TeamKhabib,” McGregor wrote. “I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family.
Yours sincerely, The McGregors.”