UFC superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov has announced his retirement from fighting just moments after beating Justin Gaethje by technical submission at Fight Island.
The Russian’s father and coach, Abdulmanap, passed away in July at the age of just 57 following complications with coronavirus and Khabib had initially said he would not return to the octagon.
However, he was persuaded to return for UFC 254 to take on Gaethje, who had seen off Tony Ferguson, and gave an accomplished display, seeing off The Highlight in the second round.
Gaethje had worked hard initially to maintain distance from Khabib, though the Russian’s pressure was relentless, constantly moving forward and connecting with several blows including a flying knee kick to his opponent’s face.
Gaethje landed a couple of strong punches and inside leg kicks of his own, though Khabib got his first takedown just before the end of the first round with Gaethje saved by the bell.
But the fight was over within minutes of the second round starting with Khabib pulling off another takedown and getting Gaethje in an incredible triangle choke, with the American tapping out.
Khabib immediately burst into tears and was consoled in the octagon by Gaethje, with the Russian then announcing that he had promised his mother this would be the one and only time he would fight without his father.
‘Today I want to say it was my last fight. No way I’m going to come here without my father. It was first time after what happened with my father,’ explained Khabib.
‘When UFC called me about Justin, I talked with my mother for three days, she didn’t want me to fight without my father.
‘But I promised her, it’s going to be my last fight. And if I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here.
‘I know only one thing that I want from UFC, you guys have to put me on number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world because I deserve this. UFC undisputed, undefeated, lightweight champion, 13-0 [in UFC], 29 in my pro MMA career. I think I deserve.’
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