The year 2020 saw two of the mixed martial arts world's best competitors announce their retirement, with reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo both calling it a career.
Henry Cejudo, the former UFC flyweight and bantamweight world champion decided to put a bow on his stellar mixed martial arts career after successfully defending the UFC's 135-pound crown against former long-time titleholder Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 back in May.
Henry Cejudo retired with a 16-2 professional record. Prior to his successful career in MMA, Henry Cejudo was an Olympic gold medalist in men's freestyle wrestling.
Later in 2020, another reigning UFC titleholder in Khabib Nurmagomedov also stunned the world by announcing his retirement. Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his UFC lightweight championship against Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 254 back in October. After the fight, an emotional Nurmagomedov announced his fight against Gaethje would be his last.
Khabib Nurmagomedov retired with an unblemished 29-0 professional record, and was named the UFC's number one pound-for-pound fighter after UFC 254. Back in July, Nurmagomedov went through a tragic death in the family after his father and head coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away due to COVID-19. Many believe that his father's death greatly influenced Nurmagomedov's decision to retire.
When asked who he believes would eventually return to the Octagon first, referee Marc Goddard didn't have a concrete answer:
"Maybe Henry? Maybe Khabib? I don’t know," Goddard told Helen Yee.
Marc Goddard believes Khabib could come back to reach 30-0
While Khabib Nurmagomedov has maintained that he is already done with competing, many people believe that he could eventually come back and go for win number 30 as a way to honor his late father Abdulmanap.
Among those people is veteran UFC referee Marc Goddard, who says that Khabib Nurmagomedov's legacy is nearing one of the greatest in the sport of MMA:
"Obviously Khabib, the very emotional thing he was saying afterwards when he beat Justin Gaethje, and he was saying about what he said to his mom, that he wouldn’t fight again, etcetera, etcetera, because the guy is on cusp of probably the greatest legacy in the sport. You don’t get undefeated fighters in MMA, not at that level, a championship level. It’s the whole thing he was saying about his father, before his father passed, that was his plan, to get him to 30-0."
Goddard continued that a superfight with former two-division titleholder and UFC Hall-of-Famer Georges St-Pierre is something that everyone would look forward to:
"People are talking about superfights, him and GSP. Who doesn’t want to see that? Who would not want to be involved with that?"
UFC President Dana White said that he plans to meet with Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2021 to discuss the lightweight king's future with the UFC.
Marc Goddard says that as a fan of MMA, he wants to see Khabib Nurmagomedov and Henry Cejudo come back
Marc Goddard also touched on Henry Cejudo, who was been teasing a return to action since he retired back in May.
Henry Cejudo has called out reigning UFC flyweight and bantamweight champions Deiveson Figueiredo and Petr Yan, saying that the two were 'rent-a-champions':
Goddard said that while Henry Cejudo has nothing left to prove in combat sports, he would like to see 'Triple C' back inside the Octagon:
"Henry as well. Obviously, Cejudo, a guy that, what more is there left for him to achieve? Olympic gold medalist, two-weight world champion, the guy is at the top of his game. Even as a fan of the sport, I just want to see those people come back."Published 22 Dec 2020, 18:46 IST