Khabib Nurmagomedov is still the UFC lightweight champion after beating Justin Gaethje in the main event at the UFC 254. The Russian revealed following the match that he retires, which was a decision made before the bout.
“Today, I want to say it was my last fight. No way I’m gonna come here without my father,” Nurmagomedov stated.
The champ had some doubts following the organization’s call for the match against Gaethje, but he decided to accept the fight, with the not that Khabib gave the word to his mother that this would be his last match.
• 29-0 professional record, 13-0 in UFC
• 2nd longest win streak in UFC history
• Tied for most lightweight title wins (4), beating fighters such as Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 24, 2020
“I talked with my mother three days. She don’t (want me) to go fight without father, but I promised her it’s gonna be my last fight. And if I give my word, I have to follow this.”
Khabib had a personal tragedy once his father Abdulmanap passed away earlier this year due to COVID-19 issues. Abdulmanap was also the champion’s trainer and the cornerstone in his professional career. It is no wonder why Khabib started crying in the middle of the octagon immediately following the end of the bout, and why he seemed pretty disturbed while giving the interview to Jon Anik.
When talking about the fight, it was interesting, with Gaethje competing very well with the champion while trading punches in stand up position. Still, in the moments when Nurmagomedov started to take the battle on the ground, the American lost his pace. The Highlight, as the fans call him, sent several pretty nasty punches, which made his rival uncomfortable, but that didn’t last for too long.
At the end of the first round, the Russian made his first takedown. The end of the sequence saved Gaethje, who was already then in a position without an exit. There was no bell to keep the challenger alive in the second round, and with 1:34 to go, Gaethje was defeated.
The two opponents are in a very good relationship, and both spoke highly of one another following the match. Khabib advised Gaethje to spend more time with his family, stating that he knows a lot about him and believes he is a great guy. The Russian would also mention several things from their common past, thanking the American for his help during previous trainings and match preparations.
On the other, Gaethje wanted to give some comfort to Khabib after the fight.
“As soon as the fight was over, I just went and told him that he made his father so proud,” Gaethje said. “And he did.”
"I promised my mother this is going to be my last fight."
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 24, 2020
With Nurmagomedov out of the picture, things are about to heat up in the lightweight division. Conor McGregor will be back pretty soon, Tony Ferguson is eager to have another chance, while Dustin Poirier awaits his matchup with McGregor to jump into the main plans.
Per some sources, there aren’t too many options for the UFC. The first is to put together Gaethje and the winner of Poirier vs. McGregor in the title fight. Meanwhile, the second is to pair Gaethje and Ferguson once again and see the winner from that one against the winner of Poirier vs. McGregor battle.
This match is set for late January, and we might know something more about that during the same period, because the UFC and Dana White won’t reveal their plans anytime soon.
In other matches, Robert Whittaker defeated Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision and Alexander Volkov TKOd Walt Harris.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.