Retirements don’t always last in MMA, but UFC president Dana White believes that Khabib Nurmagomedov is sincere in his intentions.
Nurmagomedov announced his retirement in the Octagon following a second-round submission of Justin Gaethje in the UFC 254 main event on Saturday, alluding to a promise he made to his mother before the fight. It was a long and difficult road just to get to UFC 254 for the lightweight champion, who had to endure the death of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, to COVID-19 complications earlier this year.
In addition to tragedy, White claimed Nurmagomedov dealt with some injury issues leading into his title defense against Gaethje. Regardless of the circumstances, the UFC boss doesn’t think “The Eagle” will be making a surprise comeback in the future.
“I do [think he’ll remain retired],” White said at Saturday’s post fight press conference.
“What this guy’s has been through, we’re all lucky that we got to see him fight tonight,” White added. “… Apparently he was in the hospital, he broke his foot three weeks ago. So he has two broken toes and a bone in his foot that’s broken, or something like that. That’s what his corner was telling me. Never told anybody. He is one of the toughest human beings on the planet. He is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Seriously, you have to start putting him up there with GOAT status with whoever else you think is the GOAT.”
White walked away impressed with Nurmagomedov, who after a slow start kept the pressure on Gaethje the entire bout until rendering his foe unconscious with a triangle choke at the 1:34 mark of Round 2. Though Nurmagomedov absorbed some heavy leg kicks and hard punches from the former World Series of Fighting champion, he remained unfazed through it all. Once he got Gaethje to the canvas, it was one-way traffic.
“He is the baddest mother----r on the planet,” White said. “There’s like a feeling out process for two minutes and then it’s on. Those two were going. The pressure that Khabib puts on you is unbelievable. Literally didn’t respect his punching power and just walked right into everything. Did what he wanted.”
Prior to UFC 254, White hinted that he had something big in store for Nurmagomedov, but he wouldn’t reveal what it was in the wake of the champion’s announcement. White also doesn’t have any intention of attempting to convince Nurmagomedov to have a change of heart.
“When guys want to fight, they fight. When they don’t want to fight, they don’t want to fight,” White said. “Let him take some time off. Let him heal. Not physically, but emotionally heal with what he’s going through from losing his father. We’re all lucky we got to see what we saw tonight.”
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