With a career graph going up consequently over the years he played, UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement moments after winning, what the audience later released, his last match.
The 29-0 undefeated superstar got teary-eyed after choking out his opponent, Justin Geathje, as he was about to bid adieu to the game that has gained him his global popularity and victory.
The match was played between Khabib and Justin Gaethje, another champion known for his aggressive way of fighting. Khabib defeated his lightweight championship title for the second time and ensured he leaves the ring undefeated.
The Russian mixed martial arts fighter beat his opponent in the second round of the UFC 254 at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Although Gaethje won the first round largely with his punches and kicks, doing it in his aggressive style, the Dagestan-born gave him an uncomfortable position in the game since the beginning.
One minute and a half into the second round of the fight and Khabib had placed his triangle choke on him that left Gaethje tapping. The referee declared Khabib as the winner when Gaethje lost unconsciousness after tapping twice, which the referee apparently did not notice.
As the cuts men hurried into the ring to help Gaethje, Khabib did something that no one had expected.
After winning the 29th match of his career, Khabib dropped to his knees shockingly in the center of the octagon and sobbed between his forearms. He, then, removed his gloves, placed it on the mat, and announced his retirement.
“This is my last fight in the UFC,” the superstar said.
This was his first match post the pandemic hitting the world and also the first one after his father and longtime coach, AbdulmanapNurmagomedov, died after succumbing to covid-19 in July. He was suffering from heart ailments as well that added up and made his condition worse.
In his final speech post-match, Khabib thanked all the people associated to his fighting career, along with mentioning that he won’t be able to play again without his father by his side.
“Thank you for these guys, these guys with me, been with my father for more than 10 years. All my team, AKA [American Kickboxing Academy] with coach Javier [Mendez], I love him so much, all my team,” he said and continued saying, “Today, I want to say, this was my last fight. No way am I going to come here without my father. It was the first time, after what happened with my father when UFC called me about Justin.”
Fulfilling the promise made to his mother- that’s the reason he came up to fight his last game in the Fight Island, said Khabib, “I talk with my mother three days, she doesn’t want that I go fight without father. I promised her, it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here.”
In an interview, later on, he said he spoke to his mother for three days over the question of playing the match against Gaethje as he did not want to after his father’s presence wasn’t possible at the fight.
Following the sudden retirement and the splendid victory, social media was quickly filled with emotional posts dedicated to the undisputed champion.
Conor McGregor, the fighter who had lost to Khabib in a spine-tingling fight of 2018, also praised his game and added that he will still continue playing.
Good performance @TeamKhabib.
I will carry on.
Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family.
Yours sincerely, The McGregors.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 24, 2020