It looks like Khabib Nurmagomedov will be sticking to his word.
The undefeated Dagestani (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC) made a shock announcement following his submission victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, claiming in his post-fight interview with Jon Anik that he would be retiring from MMA.
Nurmagomedov’s retirement sent shock waves throughout the MMA sphere and, although it might be difficult for some of his fans to comprehend, ‘The Eagle’ is adamant that he will not be returning to the UFC.
“This fight was like no other,” Khabib told Acting Head of Dagestan Sergei Melikov upon his arrival back home (h/t RT Sport). “The emotions in this fight were completely different. Everything was completely different without my father. I was offered the fight right after everything happened. I had the decision to accept it or turn it down, nobody knew about this, or retire, or I could come back, fight and then retire. Now I tell the people close to me that aren’t happy with me retiring that even if I fought 10 more times, I’d still have to face that decision. This decision could come up when I’m 32, 34, 35. It’s a hard decision because I’ve been fighting all my life. I’ve been on the mats for as long as I remember. It’s difficult to leave and do something else. People can’t understand it, but what can you do?”
Nurmagomedov endured a tremendously difficult training camp for UFC 253, having lost his father — and trainer — Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov as well being hospitalized with a case of the mumps and suffering a broken toe in training.
Khabib believes all of those things only strengthened his character and took the opportunity to thanks his fans for their unwavering support during what was undoubtedly one of the most difficult times of his career.
“I have many supporters in not just Dagestan but all of Russia and around the world,” Khabib said. “I have a responsibility to them, that responsibility worried me. I had serious injuries. I was hospitalized for five days in mid-September. Then I came back and broke my toe. Those words about overcoming yourself are true. If a person doesn’t break psychologically, it will be hard to break them physically because the mind breaks before bones.”
“Everything that happened to me psychologically before this fight gave me strength I can’t describe, inside and outside of the octagon, during my weight cut and preparation,” he added. “A big factor in that strength was the immense support of my fans. My father and I always used to meet fans when we arrived at the airport. This time we thought it would be best not to gather a lot of people. Given this chance, I’d like to thank them for the emotional support. Dagestan doesn’t always show the best image on TV and the internet, (so) I get a lot of motivation when my victories bring positivity to our people.”
Khabib retires at 29-0 with a reputation as one of, if not the, greatest fighters of all time.