Khabib Retires: Not Interested in Conor McGregor
Legendary mixed martial artist, Khabib Nurmagomedov, shocked the fight world over the weekend when he dispatched with opponent, Justin Gaethje, with a second round submission at UFC254 and went on to announce his sudden retirement.
The retirement came on the back of the death of his father in July. During the post-fight interview with Jon Anik, the family-oriented Khabib said that “when the UFC called me about Justin, I talked to my mother. She didn't want me to fight without my father, but I promised this would be my last fight. This was my last fight.”
"The only thing I want from the UFC is to put me as the number one pound-for-pound in the world. I deserve this."
Khabib called curtains on his career with a blemish-free 29-0 record (14-0 in the UFC), winning the lightweight belt in 2017, and defending it successfully in three subsequent fights. This well and truly puts him in the reckoning for Greatest of All-Time pound-for-pound fighter.
But perhaps what many will remember him for is how he notoriously jumped, or dived, out of the octagon after submitting Conor McGregor, and going after Conor’s posse, at UFC229 (below).
On McGregor, Khabib added that “It was my father’s dream, what else? McGregor and Poirier fight in January, I choked out both of them, I’m not interested in this.”
Somewhat surprisingly, McGregor, who had long been Khabib’s arch nemesis responded respectfully on Twitter - leading many to infer that the showman’s talk is all for, well, show (and for bumping up his PPV royalties), and not a true reflection of his character as a man.
McGregor wrote: “Good performance Khabib. I will carry on.“Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors.”
Nonetheless, the boy from Dagestan who grew up wrestling cubs (that’s small bears), left an indelible mark on the sport and on the UFC, and will leave the promotion with very big shoes to fill.
Perhaps the timing is perfect for the UFC, who last week welcomed back Conor McGregor, one of its most marketable fighters, if not most marketable fighters, of all time.
All our best Khabib - your authenticity, and sheer dominance, will be missed.