Khabib Nurmagomedov shocked the mixed martial arts community by announcing his retirement after the main event at UFC 254 in Fight Island, Abu Dhabi.
Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted the interim champion Justin Gaethje to retain his undisputed lightweight championship via a triangle choke in the second round of the UFC 254 headliner.
Many believed that Justin Gaethje will be the biggest threat to the champion reign of Khabib Nurmagomedov with his folkstyle wrestling,powerful strikes and leg kicks.
However, Khabib Nurmagomedov stood toe to toe with the interim champion in the first round landing some clean strikes of his own. Notably, his pressure was too much to handle for Gaethje who got taken down in the second round and had no answer for the superior grappling skills of Nurmagomedov.
While reactions and accolades poured in for Khabib Nurmagomedov, his retirement has left a void at the top of the lightweight division and it seems the winner of the Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor fight next year could face Justin Gaethje to crown the new champion.
The reason for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement, it seems, is quite simple. He had lost his father and lifetime coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov due to complications arising from Covid-19.
Khabib Nurmagomedov was very close to his father and BT sports had also published a heartfelt tribute to his father in the form of an emotional animated video just before the UFC 254 card.
It seems this loss took a huge emotional toll on Khabib and his family. He said in his post-fight interview with Jon Anik that his mother had asked him not to fight anymore without his father and he had promised her that this will be the last fight.
Knowing Khabib, the emphasis he places on keeping his word and his closeness to his family, it seems highly unlikely that we will ever see “The Eagle” back in the Octagon again.
In the process, he becomes the first UFC fighter to retire as a champion and undefeated.
Khabib Nurmagomedov set to be the number one pound for pound fighter
While Khabib has been at the pinnacle of lightweight rankings for a long time, on Tuesday he will be crowned the pound for pound number one fighter. He even asked the UFC to do so in his post-fight interview and one can only assume that it was part of 'Father's plan' as well.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been on the top of the pound for pound rankings for a long time but could well be replaced by Khabib Nurmagomedov when the revised rankings are released.
This will in turn further boost the legacy of Khabib Nurmagomedov who many believe now is the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
In a nutshell, Khabib Nurmagomedov retired because he had achieved everything his father had planned for him.
And it would seem that to continue fighting, especially without Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov in his corner, wasn't part of the plan.