UFC 254 featured a fight for lightweight royalty as dominant undefeated champ Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov took on interim champ Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje
Gaethje was considered by many as probably the toughest test of Nurmagomedov’s career keeping in mind his wrestling pedigree to go along with his striking. Khabib, however, nullified all of that as he submitted Gaethje to sleep to defend his belt for the third time.
The win extended his MMA record to an undefeated and unprecedented 29-0 (13-0 UFC). There were many interesting opportunities lying ahead of him considering he’s only 32, however, in his post-fight interview, Khabib announced his heartfelt and emotional retirement from the sport.
The retirement came as a shock wave across the MMA community. However, it was understandable keeping in mind his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away earlier in July from complications arising from COVID-19. Abdulmanap has been a pioneer of the sport in Russia and has been the primary coach, mentor, and best friend for Khabib.
Khabib’s emotional goodbye to the sport!
“It was my last fight. There’s no way I’m going to come here without my father,” he said. “It was the first time after what happened with my father, when the UFC called me about (fighting) Justin, I talked with my mother for three days.
“She didn’t want me to fight without father, but I promised her it was going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here.
“I know only one thing I want from the UFC: Tuesday, you guys have to put my number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world because I deserve this.
“Undisputed UFC lightweight champion, 13-0, 13 in the UFC, 29 in my pro MMA career. I think I deserve this.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the best fighters to ever step inside the MMA octagon!
Khabib made his UFC debut back in January 2012 with a record of 16-0. What made him stood out is his unique style of fighting. Being a master of Sambo, which is a mixture of wrestling with submissions, his dominating style had him under the radar.
He took on a decorated wrestler Abel Trujillo in May 2013. Despite Trujillo being a wrestler, Nurmagomedov took him down 21 times in the fight to make a UFC record. He then extended his dominance to absolutely maul Rafael Dos Anjos who himself became a champion later on.
Nurmagomedov then became the UFC lightweight champion by dominating late replacement Al Iaquinta. That set up for an ugly rivalry against arch-rival Conor McGregor. He then took on McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018. He again mauled McGregor before submitting him in the fourth round. The fight is the highest watched MMA fight to date.
Nurmagomedov then took on another interim champion Dustin Poirier. Poirier was coming off with consecutive wins over four former world champions, but Khabib made it looked easy as he submitted Poirier at UFC 242 in September last year.
He will be forever known as one of the best fighters to have ever graced the MMA octagon.
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