It’s official – Khabib Nurmagomedov has confirmed that he is vacating his lightweight title and retiring from the sport, bringing an end to his legendary undefeated career.
Dana White was the first to announce the news after having a meeting with the superstar yesterday in Las Vegas.
“29-0 it is,” White wrote. “He is [100 percent] officially retired. It was incredible to watch you work [Khabib Nurmagomedov] thank you for EVERYTHING and enjoy whatever is next my friend.”
Khabib later also wrote on Instagram to confirm his decision.
“It was a good dinner with some great people,” Nurmagomedov stated.
“@danawhite thank you so much brother and the entire @ufc team for the opportunity to prove myself, you guys have changed many live forever because of this sport 👊
“Dana – I’ll never forget your attitude towards me, my father did not forget and my sons will remember you.
Today there was a real conversation between real men.
“Also thank you to all team, sparing partners and all fans. I hope you will accept my decision and understand me.”
So that’s it, one of the all-time great MMA career’s has come to an end.
For some it will be seen as a premature conclusion given that Nurmagomedov was still at the very summit of the sport and had looked better than ever in his two round domination of Justin Gaethje last year.
That fight had only further cemented Khabib as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the history of the sport, having been unable to find his equal in the Octagon after also defeating the likes of Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, Al Iaquinta and more during his 13-fight UFC run.
White had always been eager to run back the money-spinning McGregor fight a second time, but truth be told there was nothing to suggest during that fight and afterwards that the rematch would have gone any differently.
One of the only fights left that truly seemed to excite Nurmagomedov was taking on another p4p legend in Georges St-Pierre, but just recently ‘The Eagle’ seemed to have settled to the idea that they shouldn’t lock horns.
“He’s 40 years old,” Khabib said last month. “Let’s just leave it. For sure we like him as a human being. He is the legend. He is the decent representation of mixed martial arts. Let it be like this, there’s GSP and Khabib.”
And perhaps he’s right. All too often we see fighters competing on past their best and have to endure watching our heroes tragic and often brutal demise until they are finally beaten into retirement against their will.
So, although there is undoubtedly sadness that transcending talents like Khabib and GSP have likely cast the opportunity to produce more memorable performances and moments of brilliance to the wind, it is still heartwarming to see these icons being able to walk away from the Octagon at the top of the game with their health still intact.