Khabib Nurmagomedov called time on his legendary MMA career on Saturday night following his second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
His lightweight title defence against Gaethje marked Khabib's first fight since the tragic death of his father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who passed away in July due to complications caused by COVID-19.
An emotional Khabib revealed in his post-fight interview that he had promised his mother that he would not continue to compete without his father by his side - and so was announcing his retirement.
"The Eagle" walks away from the sport with a spotless 29-0 record. In truth, rarely in the course of those 29 bouts has Nurmagomedov been troubled. To the credit of Gaejthe, though, he did manage to win a round against Khabib on the judges' scorecards at UFC 254.
Gaethje was awarded round one of their main event contest on two of the three scorecards. This marks only the second time that Khabib had lost a round in his entire MMA career.
The only other round that the Russian officially lost out of the 60 he fought as a professional was the third round of his October 2018 victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 229.
Below you can watch the third round vs McGregor if you scroll to 11:15.
To drop just two rounds in a career as long and distinguished as Khabib's is a phenomenal achievement. Indeed, it is arguable that Khabib was unlucky to lose the first session against Gaethje on Saturday night.
In a fairly even round, judges Ben Cartlidge and Sal D'Amato favoured Gaethje's striking output over Khabib's all-round pressure. It could have easily been said Nurmagomedov did enough to win the opening exchanges, especially given that he scored a late takedown. Judge Derek Cleary took this view, awarding the round to Khabib.
You can watch the opening round from last night's fight in the video below.
Even in the round that he lost to McGregor during their megafight, the 32-year-old was never in any trouble. The fact that Khabib went on to win the bout by submission in the very next round of that fight tells its own story.
Retirements in combat sports should typically be taken with a pinch of salt. In most circumstances, fighters can be tempted back for the right bout - or the right price!
Khabib, though, is a different breed of competitor. A highly principled man of his word, it truly seems that this is the end of the road for him in MMA.
The UFC may never see another like Khabib Nurmagomedov. Yes, of course, fighters will always emerge that will go on unbeaten streaks, but the sheer level of dominance that Khabib showed throughout his career is going to be very hard to match.
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