Khabib Submits Gaethje, Then Announces His Retirement

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  • Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
  • Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after the fight.
  • He says there’s no way he’s doing it again without his father.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has called it quits. After submitting Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, the Eagle said he is fulfilling a promise he made to his mother:

Nurmagomedov had been flip-flopping on the retirement issue for a while. Earlier this year, he hinted that he would retire after his 30th fight because that was what his father wanted. However, during the UFC 254 media appearances, Khabib seemingly took that back when he said that he loves to compete and fighting is what he does. He also recently told reporters that a McGregor rematch “makes sense”. But after yet another dominant performance inside the octagon, Nurmagomedov finally let out what was inside his heart.

Losing His Father

Nurmagomedov’s father Abdulmanap passed away after a battle with COVID-19 last July. Abdulmanap had been Khabib’s longtime coach and trainer and UFC 254 was his first fight without him. In an interview last year, Khabib’s father said that if it were up to him, he would want his son to retire at 30-0 because he has been fighting for a long time and has nothing more to prove. Abdulmanap never got the chance to see that happen.

While Khabib had been flirting with retirement talks, it was always believed that he had two fights left. UFC President Dana White was on board with Nurmagomedov closing out his career against the legendary Georges St. Pierre. Then there was a McGregor rematch waiting if the Irishman beats Dustin Poirier in January. The UFC had insisted that the fight has to happen at 155 pounds, perhaps hoping that a McGregor win sets up the highly anticipated rematch.

But in the end, it all boiled down to family. During the post-fight Octagon interview, Nurmagomedov told Gaethje to be close with his parents because tomorrow is never guratanteed:

Another Dominant Performance

Nurmagomedov’s announcement at the end overshadowed another dominant performance from the best lightweight to ever do it. Many said that Gaethje would be his biggest test so far. Not only was “The Highlight” one of the best strikers in the business, he had an NCAA Division I wrestling background that had yet to be tapped in MMA. But Khabib proved why he is one of the all-time greats.

Nurmagomedov applied the pressure throughout the first round but Gaethje landed hard combinations and leg kicks that seemed to bother the champion. The American kept the fight on the feet for most of the round although at the end of the round, Khabib took the fight down and the horn sounded as he tried to go for an armbar submission. Gaethje won round one in the scorecards of judges Ben Cartlidge and Sal D’Amato.

But Gaethje though looked gassed midway in the first round. Khabib then continued the pressure in the second round. After a few exchanges, he took the fight down again. And instead of going for the ground and pound, Nurmagomedov transitioned to a triangle choke. Khabib rolled on his back and secured the submission hold. Moments later, Gaethje passed out and it was over.

Legacy Like No Other

Nurmagomedov had one more wish before stepping out of the octagon for the final time:

“Only one thing what I want from UFC — Tuesday, you guys have to put me No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world because I deserve this.”/span>

Given how he’s dominated the lightweight division, there is no doubt that he deserves that honor. And even if it would be just for posterity’s sake, it won’t be hard to believe that the UFC will grant him his request. Nurmagomedov finishes his career with an unbeaten 29-0 record, with three successful title defenses. He goes out on top, after a dominant career, leaving behind a legacy like no other.

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Shane Acedera / Author

Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit's Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn't busy jotting down his thoughts, he's just chillin' at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher. He recently added a new family member, adopting a handsome retired K-9 named Ranger.

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