Khabib Nurmagomedov’s fans are still coming to terms with their hero’s decision to walk away from UFC.
The 32-year-old announced his retirement after stopping Justin Gaethje with a triangle choke early in the second round at UFC 254 on Saturday.
“This is my last fight,” Khabib said during his post-fight interview inside the Octagon. “There’s no way I’m going to be back without my father. I spoke to my mother. She don’t know how I fight without father, but I promised it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow it.”
Khabib, who extended his flawless record to 29-0 with victory over Gaethje, could have fought on for a few more years and further cemented his status as the greatest UFC fighter ever in the process.
But the lightweight champion wants a new life away from the limelight.
While Khabib’s announcement came as a shock to many, he’d dropped strong hints about retirement during an interview with ESPN two weeks before the Gaethje fight.
A two-minute clip from the aforementioned video is now going viral on social media.
“I am eagle, I want to fly,” Khabib said earlier this month. “When my time comes I’m gonna die. But before my time comes I want to fly. I want to be free. I want to do whatever I want. I want to spend time with my family, my friends, with my people. I want to live in my village.”
He continued: “I don’t want to put crazy goal in front of me. Soon, very soon I think, my career is going to finish. And I’m going to begin my new life without all this interview, without all this media stuff, weight cutting, hard training, focusing.
“I’m going to be getting a new life. And for life, I don’t need too much. Even if you’re a billionaire, you never eat more than one bread in one day.
“I want to be free, I want to fly, and I want to do whatever I want.”
Watch the interview in full here…
“This hits different now,” one fan said.
It certainly does. Plenty of fighters have reversed their decisions to retire in the past - usually after being offered a big pay cheque - but it’s hard to see Khabib doing the same.
He’s a man of his word and clearly wants to begin the next chapter of his life away from UFC.
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