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Is Khabib Nurmagomedov Really Retired?




After successfully defending his lightweight crown against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov said an emotional goodbye to MMA. His announcement came as a shock to the fans and the UFC alike, as everybody was expecting ‘The Eagle’ to achieve the 30-0 milestone his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, had envisioned for his son.

But with the passing away of Dagestan’s MMA godfather due to complications related to the coronavirus, Khabib altered his plans. Another factor that led to him eventually bowing out of MMA at his peak was the promise he made to his mother, that he won’t fight again without his father.

Khabib has reiterated his stance on a number of occasions since UFC 254, but Dana White is persistently chasing the undefeated Dagestani superstar in hopes of luring him back into fighting. But could succeed in doing so? The UFC president does have his chances.

Khabib And His Father’s Dream Fight

It’s no secret that Khabib has a massive amount of respect for his late father, Abdulmanap. If he can quit the sport at the pinnacle of his career for his father, he can certainly return to honor his wish to see his son fight UFC hall of famer Georges St-Pierre. GSP, who is one of the most decorated champions in UFC history, has also expressed his desire to take on the Khabib challenge, but after the Russian announced his retirement, GSP said that he wouldn’t “dare” to ask for a fight because he respects Khabib’s decision, and that the circumstances are quite unfavorable at present.

It has only been over two months since Khabib’s last fight, so there’s no need to panic. When the dust settles, ‘The Eagle’ might want to even the odd 29-0 number, and if he does so, it has got to be against GSP, because the UFC 155lbs division king has closed the Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor chapter of his story.

Mother’s Blessing

Keeping a promise is a basic ethic everywhere else, but in Dagestan, it’s a matter of life and death. That means if we are to judge Khabib’s decision on the basis of his promise he made to his mother, he’s definitely going to honor it even if all the wealth and fame in the world were offered to him. His promise to his mother has pretty much put a full stop to his fighting career, but his mother’s blessing can also bring him back.

2020 has been a very emotional year for the Nurmagomedov family, and for Dagestan. They have lost a man who wasn’t just Khabib’s father, but a coach, a guardian, and a friend to the many great Dagestani fighters competing in different promotions around the globe. Emotions are running high, but things could certainly change in the future.

Coaching The Next Generation

Khabib’s cousins Islam Makhachev and Umar Nurmagomedov compete in the UFC, and the goal for team Khabib is to bring as many UFC championships to the clan as possible. He also has another cousin, Usman Nurmagomedov, who competes in Bellator. In an interview last year, Khabib revealed that he and American Boxing Academy (AKA) chief Javier Mendez plan on developing the next generation of champions from Dagestan.

He has turned his attention to coaching and wants to play the role of a father to the younger lot of Dagestani fighters, much like Abdulmanap. The biggest plus of him coaching and constantly staying in the gym, however, is that he might someday want to return to the sport he’s so ridiculously good at.

His Business Ventures

The 32-year-old also has a number of businesses to handle, including farms in his village in Dagestan and his newly-acquired Eagle Fighting Championship. In an interview, he said that after his retirement, he would like to spend most of his time studying for his Master’s degree, and working on his farm in Dagestan.

Khabib’s a very busy man, and it’s hard for him to pursue fighting full time with all he’s doing outside the cage. But with that in mind, fighting one more time isn’t going to consume a lot of his time.

Khabib is expected to meet Dana this month in Abu Dhabi to hold talks over his fighting future. Let’s hope that ‘The Eagle’ decides to soar again.

Here are Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last five fights in the UFC:

UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje

UFC 242: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Dustin Poirier

UFC 229: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor

UFC 223: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta

UFC 219: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Edson Barboza

Yeshel Asif is an MMA journalist based in Pakistan. In his relatively young career, he has worked remotely for Asian Persuasion MMA, MMA Betz, and Fight Booth.