Khabib Nurmagomedov added to his impressive UFC legacy today, with a win over Justin Gaethje. The victory pushes his career record to 29-0.
Khabib says that is where it will end, as well. After the win, a dominant performance capped by a submission on a triangle choke, he made a somewhat shocking decision: he is retiring from mixed martial arts.
"This was my last fight. No way I'm going to come here without my father," Khabib said after the fight. His father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov died at 57 years old, after complications with COVID-19 in July.
"After what happened with my father, when UFC called me about (fighting) Justin, I talked with my mother... I promised her it was going to be my last fight. And if I give my word, I have to follow this."
Nurmagomedov says he wants just one thing from the UFC: the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter ranking.
Right now, the lightweight champion is only behind Jon Jones in the UFC's current rankings. After the fight, plenty are arguing for the undefeated champ to move up to the top spot. We'll see if Dana White and the company grant him that wish.
"I deserve it," an exhausted, emotional Khabib Nurmagomedov said after the fight.
White was extremely thankful for the show that Khabib put on after his 29th straight win, and indicated that he considers him the top pound-for-pound guy in the entire sport.
"We're all lucky that we got to see him fight tonight," he said, when asked if he takes Khabib at his word about the retirement. "Apparently, he was in the hospital. He broke his foot three weeks ago. He has two broken toes and a bone in his foot that was broken. He never told anybody."
"He is one of the toughest human beings on the planet," White continued. "He is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Seriously, you have to start putting him up there at GOAT status... When guys want to fight, they want to fight. If they don't want to fight, they don't want to fight. Let him heal, not physically but emotionally heal from what he's going through from losing his father."
Khabib is just 32, and could certainly add to his all-time great resume if he wants. That is up to him and his family. It has been a special career either way.