On October 24, 2020, at the du Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 'The Eagle' stepped inside the octagon to defend his title against Gaethje. Nurmagomedov completely outclassed Gaethje and won via submission in the second round.
Following the win, Khabib Nurmagomedov shocked the world by announcing his retirement from MMA. It's been a year since and he has always maintained that he will not fight anymore. Nurmagomedov said he promised his mother that the fight against Gaethje would be his last.
He also said his father's unfortunate demise took a deep toll on him emotionally and that he didn't want to continue fighting without his father's presence:
"Thank you for these guys, these guys with me, been with my father for more than 10 years. All my team, AKA with coach Javier, I love him so much, all my team, Today, I want to say, this was my last fight. No way am I going to come here without my father. It was first time, after what happened with my father, when UFC called me about Justin. I talk with my mother three days, she don't want that I go fight without father. I promised her, it's going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here. All this UFC team, everybody around the world, this whole pandemic stuff, they are doing great show. Thank you so much Justin. Justin, 2016 I remember when I cut weight, you helped me a lot. Thank you brother. I know you are a great man, I know how you take care of your people, I know a lot of things about of you. Be close to your parents, because one day, it's going to happen something. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow, you never know," Khabib Nurmagomedov said in his retirement speech at UFC 254.
Khabib Nurmagomedov's legacy in the UFC is unparalleled
Khabib is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters of all time, if not the greatest. Not only did he never lose a fight, Nurmagomedov also never bled inside the octagon which is almost unheard of in the world of combat sports.
In his 29-0 career as a professional fighter, Khabib Nurmagomedov ran through some of the best lightweights on the planet.
Nurmagomedov lost just two rounds in his entire career. One was to Gaethje. The other came against his arch-rival Conor McGregor at UFC 229. Although Nurmagomedov lost the third round, he dominated most of the fight and emphatically won via submission in the fourth round.