Renowned American Kickboxing Academy leader, Javier Mendez has recently touched on the retirement of his longtime student, undisputed UFC lightweight champion, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov, detailing how the Russian hasn’t officially confirmed his retirement, to him at least.
Mendez, the longtime trainer of Khabib also holds the reigns for fellow lightweight standout, Islam Makhachev, and over the last decade in mixed martial arts, produced UFC champions such as Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, and Luke Rockhold to name a few.
Khabib, who successfully unified the promotion’s 155-pound titles at UFC 254 in October against then-interim champion, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje, has been continously linked with a snapping of his retirement, with the possibility of a return outing against former two-weight world champion, Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre floated again and again.
The 29-0 sambo-specialist called time on his career in quite surprising fashion immediately following his triangle win over Gaethje on ‘Fight Island’ — detailing how he had made a prior promise to his mother that he wouldn’t make the Octagon walk again without his late father and masterful coach, Abdulmanap by his side, who had sadly passed away following complications stemming from COVID-19 earlier this year.
In the weeks and months since his retirement, Khabib has reiterated his stance on the decision and even noted his confusion as to why he’s still billed as the undisputed lightweight champion despite hanging up his gloves. For promotional leader, Dana White, however, he’s claimed he’s confident the Russian will make a return in search of a thirtieth straight win — ahead of an expected sitdown in Abu Dhabi next month.
Speaking on The Schmozone Podcast recently, Mendez claimed he had yet to speak with Khabib regarding his retirement, and while he’s never actually confirmed his decision to walk away from the sport to him, Mendez told how if Khabib was to return, he would need his mother’s blessing to do so.
“Who knows?” Mendez said. “Since I never had that conversation (about retirement) with him, I really can’t say I know anything other than that I can speculate. Speculation would be that if he does (come back) it’d have to be with GSP (Georges St-Pierre), and it would have to be with his mother’s permission. Not [the] coach’s permission, not [the] fighter’s permission, nobody’s permission but [his] mother’s permission.“
“And, he (Khabib Nurmagomedov) has to want it,” Mendez explained. “I don’t know that he wants it or doesn’t want it because we’ve never discussed it. This is not something that I’m going to bring up to him. If he brings it up to me, then I’ll give him my opinion and we’ll leave it at that, but as of yet, he’s never discussed why he decided to make the retirement speech, so he’s never officially told me, ‘Coach I’m done.’ He’s never officially told me that.“
While the fighting future of the current pound-for-pound number-one and lightweight pacesetter seems confusing to say the least, UFC 257 on January 23 could shed some light on the potential next challenger to the throne, be that vacant or otherwise. Prior-foes of Khabib, Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor run back their 2014 meeting on ‘Fight Island’ in a sure to be title-eliminator at 155-pounds.