Dana White Expects Khabib Nurmagomedov Will Return to Try to Become 30-0

By Jay Pettry Oct 29, 2020

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A retirement in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and a dollar can get you a cup of coffee in the morning.

Lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) put Justin Gaethje to sleep with a triangle choke last Saturday at UFC 254, and he unexpectedly announced his retirement after the win. In his post-fight interview, “The Eagle” claimed that he made a promise to his mother to stop fighting after facing Gaethje, and that he could not continue competing without his father with him. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away in July due to complications from COVID-19, and many expected that his son’s career may be cut short from that. According to UFC President Dana White on The Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports Radio on Thursday, that might not be the case after all.

“No…nobody knew, not even his coach…nobody knew,” answered White when asked if he was aware of Nurmagomedov’s sudden retirement. Gelb then asked how White processed the news, and the UFC head responded with a laugh, “I wasn’t. I was sittin’ there going ‘oh my god, you gotta be kidding me.’ But I’ll tell you this, and I haven’t told anybody this yet…Khabib and I have been talking. And, you know, he was completely emotional that night, you know, when he got through that fight.”

“I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0,” White admitted. When prompted to reiterate what he just stated, White continued, “I do [believe Nurmagomedov will return]. I think that he’s not gonna retire. You know, his dad wanted him to get to 30-0, and I think he wants to honor his dad’s wish.”

While a few fighters throughout MMA history have amassed a record of 30-0, none have been able to retain that undefeated stretch and retire without losing. Of note, Julio Cesar Neves Jr. and Luis Rafael Laurentino both reached those dazzling totals only to lose in subsequent bouts. Courtesy of a blistering pace in 2001 to 2002 and some favorable matchups in promotions like Iowa Challenge and Extreme Challenge, John Strawn reached 29-0 only to lose to Jake Hudson in 2003 when his corner threw in the towel. Should Nurmagomedov return and win once more, he would enter the history books that few could dare to imagine.

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