At UFC 254, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Gaethje via submission to retain his title, and then made the stunning announcement of his retirement from the sport. In the Octagon interview, Khabib stated the decision was brought on due to the passing of his father, disinterest in rematching top contenders Conor McGregor or Dustin Poirier, and a promise made to his late mother. But there is another reason why Khabib made his difficult decision: having nothing left to prove.
“Of course (UFC president) Dana (White) wants me to continue fighting and generate revenue,” Nurmagomedov told local reporters as translated by RT Sport. “I can make money myself. I’m at the peak of my career and can fight for very large purses, but I made this decision, and I think this is the best time. Not everyone can retire at their peak, but I know that in a year, two or five (years) I’d have to face that decision again. I did enough in the sport to be considered the best. Today, I was ranked as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, so the mission is accomplished. What else is there to do? Make money? I’ll always be able to do that.”
And even though Khabib and his mother discussed the decision prior to Khabib going public with it, the timing still came as a surprise to her, as the champion describes the discussion they had following the announcement.
“Well, the emotions ran high,” Nurmagomedov said. “She knew, but I don’t think she expected me to announce it right after the fight. I did promise her that this would be my last fight, so she was aware.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov will exit the sport with a flawless 29-0 record, which will be very difficult for anyone to top, and is financially set for life. And it is no doubt painful for the UFC and Dana White to watch him go in the prime of his career and peak of his fame.
What do you think of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s reasoning behind his retirement?