It’s been approximately 50 days since Khabib Nurmagomedov removed his glove and retired from mixed martial arts. He was firm in his decision and left no room for ambiguity. And yet, 50 days later, Nurmagomedov is still listed as the UFC’s lightweight champion. By comparison, Henry Cejudo also retired in the ring after defeating Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 to retain the bantamweight championship, and the belt was vacated two weeks later. Speaking in a recent press conference in Moscow, Khabib confessed that the decision to vacate the lightweight championship won’t be easy, even if it is inevitable.
“I don’t know,” Khabib said as translated by RT Sport when asked about vacating the UFC lightweight championship. “It’s great to be reigning champion, I won’t lie. The title will be vacated and there will be another champion. Let me enjoy it for now.
“I haven’t thought of that. I’ll probably be champion until I see Dana.”
It was reported over a week ago that Nurmagomedov and Dana White had scheduled a meeting. There has been no further updates about the meeting since. But at the time of this press conference, Khabib predicted what Dana’s move would be.
“He’ll probably offer money,” Khabib said. “It’ll be hard to entice me without an opponent.”
Under careful scrutiny, Khabib’s rhetoric implies that it’s not completely impossible for him to agree to continue fighting. The champion states that it would be “hard” to entice him, which implies possibility. He also cites a specific hurdle: a lack of a worthy opponent. This could mean that the right opponent could very well convince Khabib to stay, especially since he freely admits how difficult the decision to retire was in the first place.
“Of course. I’d been doing it all my life,” Khabib said when asked if it was difficult for him to retire. “Sometimes we believe that there’s nothing else we can do. And that’s most because we just don’t want to get into something new for us. I think every human being has great potential. You just need to fulfill it in your own way.”
We’ll have to keep waiting to see if Khabib’s fulfillment of his potential will include pursuing 30-0 or if he will continue to glide into new endeavors.
Do you believe Khabib Nurmagomedov will fight again as the UFC lightweight champion?