Khabib Nurmagomedov has created an aura of invincibility around himself. The sambo champion, hailing from the mountains of Dagestan, came to the UFC and defeated everyone in his path.
He announced his retirement after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 with a perfect record of 29-0.
Dana White has insisted that he can convince Khabib to return for a final bout in a bid to take his record to 30-0, which was Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov's dream for his son. It seems, though, that White has finally accepted defeat like all the other men who tried to impose their will on Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The UFC president officially announced Khabib's retirement on his Instagram and stated what's next for the future of the lightweight division.
While we're all a little heartbroken, this was definitely the right thing to do. Here are 5 reasons why it was the right decision for Khabib Nurmagomedov to walk away from the UFC.
5) The loss of his father
It's no secret that Khabib Nurmagomedov was trained by his father, legendary MMA coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. Khabib's father single-handedly changed the landscape of modern MMA. Unfortunately, the world lost a giant when Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov succumbed to complications arising from Covid19 in July 2020.
Khabib has repeatedly stated his immense respect and adoration for the man who taught him everything he knows. After his father's passing, everyone wondered how Khabib would fare in the Octagon, but 'The Eagle' was iron-willed and submitted Justin Gaethe in the second round at UFC 254.
After the fight, he burst into tears and revealed there was no way he would come back to compete without his father.
4) Khabib made a promise to his mother
Khabib Nurmagomedov is very much a family man. He lives and breathes by a set of rules inside and outside the octagon, the greatest of them being loyalty to his family and his team.
After his clinical win at UFC 254, he announced his retirement from professional mixed martial arts. Stating that his mother did not want him to fight after the loss of his father, he promised her that the fight against Gaethje would be his last. Khabib Nurmagomedov is a man of his word and bowed out immediately after the fight.
3) The GSP vs Khabib fight is a pipe dream
The Eagle's father's plan was for Khabib to clean out the lightweight division before fighting UFC legend Georges St-Pierre. The aim was to finish with a perfect 30-0 record, demolishing the biggest names in the sport. While there has been some back and forth about a possible matchup, both GSP and Khabib have stated on multiple occasions that it was unlikely to happen.
GSP doesn't want to drop down to lightweight due to his age and the issues he faced while changing weight classes in the past. Khabib Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, has always been adamant about not moving up a weightclass.
While we would have absolutely loved to see these titans fight it out, it just wasn't meant to be. GSP has even said that while a potential fight would be great, the UFC needs to let Khabib Nurmagomedov retire on his own terms.
2) Khabib's perfect record
'The Eagle' has achieved what most athletes only ever dream of: ascending to the peak of their sport and retiring on top.
After winning the title in April 2018, Khabib Nurmagomedov defended it against the biggest names in the division, finishing each title defense quicker than the previous one. He controlled Conor McGregor for four rounds before submitting him at UFC 229. He then choked Dustin Poirier out in the third round at UFC 242, and put Justin Gaethje to sleep in the second round at UFC 254.
While a final bid for 30-0 would have been amazing to watch, it could have been the same greed for success that has seen so many stars fall from grace. Khabib Nurmagomedov retired with a perfect record of 29-0. Not only did he win every fight, he arguably won every round of every fight.
It's almost impossible to achieve such a feat, let alone beat it.
1) No new challenge in the division for Khabib
Dana White met Khabib Nurmagomedov before UFC 257, where Conor McGregor fought Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler made his debut. 'The Eagle' told the UFC president that if he sees something spectacular, he might consider coming back.
However, at the post-fight press conference, Dana White said that the first person he spoke to was Khabib Nurmagomedov who simply said, "Don't kid yourself, Dana. I'm levels above these guys."
Every time the UFC presented a new 'toughest challenge' for him, Khabib Nurmagomedov finished it quicker than the one before it. He has made world class athletes look like amateurs, unable to match his level of grappling and sheer dominance.
What can the UFC possibly offer him that would even seem close to a challenge? One could say perhaps Michael Chandler or Charles Oliveira but even they would sturggle against the pressure of Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is one of the most dominant fighters and the best grappler MMA has ever seen. For now, there is no challenge left for him in the lightweight division.
It's time for him to sail off into the sunset and enjoy retirement. Khabib Nurmagomedov bid adieu to the UFC with a heartfelt message on his Instagram: