Khabib Nurmagomedov has announced his retirement from mixed martial arts with immediate effect, following his second round win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
The Dagestani grappler moved to 29-0 on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi, choking Justin Gaethje unconscious with a triangle choke just 94 seconds into the second round. The win means he unified the division, reinstating his title of undisputed lightweight champion in the UFC.
Following the fight, Khabib’s team cut the tape on his gloves off and during his post-fight interview in the octagon he revealed to Jon Anik that this was his last fight ever.
“This was my last fight in the UFC. This was my last fight. There’s no way I’m going to come here without my father. It was the first time after what happened with my father. After the UFC called me about Justin, I spoke with my mother for three days. She doesn’t want me to fight without my father, but I promised her this is going to be my last fight. If I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here.
“I know only one thing I want from UFC on Tuesday, to put me on #1 pound-for-pound fighter because I deserve it. UFC undisputed lightweight champion, 13-0 in UFC, 29-0 in my pro MMA career, I think I deserve it.“
The announcement is one that rocks MMA, with many expecting him to try and hit 30-0 before bowing out – potentially against Georges St-Pierre.
However, while many fighters retire from the sport and eventually come back I don’t think anyone expects that will happen on this occasion. The Team AKA fighter has always come across as a man of his word and following his father’s death in July, there were talks of retirement immediately.
His comments after the fight confirm that it was an option but he instead opted to fight in his father’s honour one last time before bowing out and riding off into the sunset.
With Justin Gaethje dispatched in a relatively easy manner, all eyes were on Conor McGregor’s bout with Dustin Poirier in January as Khabib’s next contender. Khabib admitted that fight played a part in his decision as he has no interest in fighting them again.
“Conor is going to fight Dustin in January. I already choke them both and beat them. I have no interest in that one, this is gonna be my last fight.“
Both fighters were among the plethora of athletes and celebrities to comment on the champ’s retirement, both sending respectful messages over Twitter.
Justin Gaethje revealed he is also ready to get back into the octagon as soon as possible, mentioning a 6-8 week period before fighting again which could see him fight Michael Chandler in a potential title eliminator once again. Tony Ferguson is also still in the conversation, with his last fight snapping a 12 fight winning streak in which he never got to challenge for the undisputed title.
As for his wish to be crowned the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, I think it’s a no-brainer. At 29-0 in this division, defeating the opponents he’s defeated in the manner he’s defeated them in, it’s a legacy that will likely go unmatched in history. The least the UFC can do is grant him his final wish.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, thank you.