Undefeated and undisputed UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov shocked the world by announcing his retirement after comprehensively beating interim champion Justin Gaethje in the headliner of UFC 254, which took place at the Yas Islands in Abu Dhabi.
Khabib Nurmagomedov decided to hang his gloves at the peak of powers with an unprecedented 29-0 record inside the Octagon, leaving many a jaw dropped because people believe there is still no one in the 155lbs division that could potentially beat the Dagestan native. While the retirement comes as a surprise to many, Khabib Nurmagomedov and his late father Abdulmanap had already planned the former's retirement. Abdulmanap wanted his son to walk away from the sport at the top of his game with an unbeaten record, and so he did, honoring his late father beautifully.
We all know how attached Khabib Nurmagomedov was to Abdulmanap, given the fact that they were much more than just a father-son duo. Abdulmanap was also Khabib's trainer and like a best friend to him. The emotional baggage that Nurmagomedov carried heading into his fight against Gaethje having lost his father earlier this year was clearly visible after the Russian broke down into tears inside the Octagon after getting the stoppage win.
Let's go back in time and ponder over some wise words spoken by Abdulmanap regarding Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement and the future of the lightweight division in the UFC after his son calling it a day. This will also explain why Khabib chose to walk out while being the best version of himself instead of carrying on.
Khabib Nurmagomedov's father had already planned his son's retirement
In the wake of UFC 254, RT Sport MMA shared a video dating back to October 2019 when Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov spoke about what will happen when Khabib leaves the sport. Abdulmanap revealed that Khabib retiring early was always part of the plan. He said that he knows that one day, every great champion has to fall as talented, young, and hungrier guys keep coming up from time to time, eager to etch their own names in history books.
According to Abdulmanap, Islam Makhachev, who also happens to be his trainee, Khabib's teammate, and a fellow UFC lightweight, is hungrier than Khabib, who already won the title and got the taste of having the gold strap tied around his waist. Praising Islam, Abdulmanap added that he would one day replace Khabib as the lightweight champion.
"I think Islam can beat anyone. He's younger, hungrier, and he should take Khabib's place. That way I solidify my coaching abilities. So Khabib retires and another champion emerges who's also my student."
Only time will tell if the highly-rated prospect Islam Makhachev can make it to the pinnacle of the 155lbs division, but Khabib Nurmagomedov's legacy as the greatest lightweight in UFC history is cast in stone.Published 26 Oct 2020, 18:42 IST