Khabib Nurmagomedov ended his MMA career in style by defending his lightweight title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
The 29-0 fighter forced Gaethje to submit in the second round with a triangle choke. It’s just the third time in UFC title fight history that a bout has ended with the technique.
Gaethje was actually ahead of Nurmagomedov on the scorecards before the submission after taking the first round.
But the American was helpless to prevent his opponent taking him down in the second before getting the submission.
Khabib didn't want to hurt Gaethje
Nurmagomedov had initially set up an armbar but changed to the triangle instead.
Why? Because he didn’t want to injure Gaethje in front of Gaethje’s parents.
According to Nurmagomedov’s teammate Daniel Cormier, Nurmagomedov heard Gaethje say in pre-fight interviews that he would never tap. The armbar can potentially lead to a broken limb, while a choke with no tapout leads to the fighter going unconscious.
"He told me when he was watching the interviews over the course of the week, he saw that Justin said that he would never tap," Cormier told ESPN's Ariel Helwani on the DC & Helwani program.
"So when he was going to the submission, he said it was his dad's favourite submission, get into the mount position, go into the armbar, go into the triangle.
“When he got there, he was going to do the armbar, but he had heard Justin saying all week that he would never tap, and he didn't want to hurt him in front of his parents.
“So he went to the triangle and just kind of put him to sleep."
Cormier added: “I promise you, he actually told me that.
“He goes, ‘I didn’t wanna hurt him in front of his parents so I said I’m going to put him in a triangle and if goes to sleep, he’ll go to sleep and wake up and be fine.’
He did not want to hurt Justin in front of his parents.
To have the awareness in the moment to switch to the triangle shows just how impressive a fighter Nurmagomedov was.
It also shows his immense compassion.
Nurmagomedov was fighting for the first time since his father’s death and told Gaethje after the bout to stay close to his parents because “you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow”.
He's a class act who will be sorely missed.
- Conor McGregor mocks Justin Gaethje
- McGregor's teammate deletes Khabib tweet
- What happens to the lightweight title now?