The UFC lightweight champion retired following his submission victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Nurmagomedov cited the recent passing of his father, Abdulmanap, and his mother’s hesitation of him continuing to fight without his father in his corner as his reasons for the decision. The announcement came as a shock to many, as the performance showed that the 32 year-old was still in his prime. This led to speculation that the retirement may not be permanent and we would see Nurmagomedov in the octagon again. The UFC added fuel to the fire when they announced they wouldn’t be taking the title off of “The Eagle”.
Sitting down in his home country with the Head of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov, Nurmagomedov elaborated on his decision to retire and addressed the rumours of his return (video and translation provided by RT Sports).
“This fight was like no other,” Khabib said. “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 leaves the sport with a record of 29-0. He and his team and long spoke about retiring at a perfect 30-0, but the passing of his father ultimately means he’ll walk away one win short. However, he detailed just how difficult it was to make it to UFC 254 and get that 29th win.
“I have many supporters in not just Dagestan but all of Russia and around the world. 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.”
Nurmagomedov was also sure to give his thanks to his fans not only for the support through his career, but also helping him make it to the fight against Gaethje.
“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. 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.”
Do these comments from Khabib Nurmagomedov make you believe he will stay retired?