Khabib Nurmagomedov Opens Up On “Difficult” Decision To Retire
By Ross Markey
Despite recent speculation regarding his immediate future, undisputed UFC lightweight champion, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov has insisted his recent decision to retire from professional mixed martial arts was a “difficult” one to make, but remains adamant the decision would always rear its head.
The undefeated Dagestani announced his somewhat surprising decision to hang up his gloves following his successful unification of the lightweight titles against Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje in October at UFC 254, detailing how he had made a promise to his mother that he wouldn’t make the Octagon walk again following the passing of his coach and father, Abdulmanap earlier this year.
Khabib, who took off his gloves in an emotional post-fight interview with UFC commentator, Jon Anik, retired with a perfect, 29-0 professional record – honouring the above mentioned, Abdulamanap’s plan for him to walk away from the sport as the undisputed 155-pound best, undefeated.
UFC leader, Dana White outlined his shock at Khabib’s decision and noted how the mixed martial arts community was lucky to even see him compete on ‘Fight Island’ given his recent personal turmoil, but insisted that the promotion would not remove him from champion status at 155-pounds, and how a vacant lightweight title matchup in the immediate future should not be expected.
White further told how he had recently spoken with Khabib regarding his retirement, and explained how he is confident the Sambo specialist will return to the Octagon in order to pursue an undefeated 30-0 professional résumé.
Speaking recently, Khabib detailed how he has received some questions regarding his retirement from his inner-circle, with many upset at his decision, but noted how “difficult” it was to come to terms with choice to bow out of the sport.
“This fight (vs. Gaethje) was like no other,” Khabib said as translated by RT Sport. “The emotions in this fight were completely different. Everything was completely different without my father. I was offered the fight right after everything happened. I had the decision to accept it or turn it down, nobody knew about this, or retire, or I could come back, fight and then retire.
“Now I tell people close to that aren’t happy with me reciting that even if I fought ten more times, I’d still have to face that decision. This decision could come up when I’m 32(-years-old), 34, 35. It’s a hard decision because I’ve been fighting all my life. I’ve been on the mats for as long as I remember. It’s difficult to leave and do something else. People can’t understand it, but what can you do?”