UFC superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov has announced his retirement after defeating Justin Gaethje to successfully defend his lightweight title and retain his perfect record.
The undefeated 32-year-old mixed martial artist from Dagestan, Russia, collapsed in the centre of the octagon and sobbed after choking his American opponent unconscious at UFC 254 on Saturday.
On getting up, he took off his gloves and left them on the mat.
“This is my last fight in the UFC,” he said.
His father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away in July due to complications caused by COVID-19.
This one was for Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov 🏆 pic.twitter.com/ZZdywrlE5e
— UFC (@ufc) October 24, 2020
Nurmagomedov said in the post-fight interview that he talked to his mother for three days before deciding to accept the fight against Gaethje in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
“There’s no way I’m going to be back without my father. I spoke to my mother. She don’t know how I fight without father, but I promised it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow it.”
The American troubled the champion with leg kicks but succumbed to a triangle choke in the second round as Nurmagomedov cemented his claim to be the most dominant MMA fighter of all time with a 29-0 record.
Social media erupted in celebration and tribute following Nurmagomedov’s win and retirement announcement.
Congratulations to the greatest champion in @ufc history. What a career, we are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with you my brother. 29-0 undefeated and undisputed. #weareaka #eaglesmma #fathersplan #heissoproud @TeamKhabib pic.twitter.com/uXjiT34JuV
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 24, 2020
I want to congratulate Khabib for an outstanding career. I know he made his father along with millions of fans around the world incredibly proud today. May God continue to bless him on his journey.
— BONY (@JonnyBones) October 24, 2020
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
Unreal. One of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen. 🙏🏼 #KhabibTime
— Dan Hardy (@danhardymma) October 24, 2020
If it’s truly the end @TeamKhabib thank you. You, your legacy & your father shall live forever in MMA history. Measures beyond all control meant me leaving FI early but I watched from home as a true fan of MMA. Thank you for your contribution, congratulations & happy retirement.
— Marc Goddard (@marcgoddard_uk) October 24, 2020