Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

UFC

UFC 254: Tearful Khabib Nurmagomedov says he is retiring after victory over Justin Gaethje

Lightweight champion makes it 29 undefeated with ruthless second-round win in Abu Dhabi but says 'this is my last fight'

An emotional Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his shock retirement immediately following his successful title defence against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning.

The lightweight champion, competing for the first time since his father died in July, saw off the interim champion via a second-round triangle choke at Flash Forum and then broke down in tears.

Speaking inside the octagon, Nurmagomedov confirmed he was stepping away from the sport, with an unbeaten record of 29-0.

"I promised my mother this is going to be my last fight," the Dagestani said. "I only want one thing from the UFC, I want to be the No 1 one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

"Thank you for these guys, these guys with me, been with my father for more than 10 years.

"All my team, AKA with coach Javier, I love him so much, all my team. Today, I want to say, this was my last fight. No way am I going to come here without my father.

"It was first time, after what happened with my father, when UFC called me about Justin. I talk with my mother for three days, she don’t want that I go fight without father.

"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 I want from the UFC: you guys have to make me on No 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, because I deserve this. UFC undisputed, undefeated lightweight champion, 13-0, 13 in UFC, 29 in all pro MMA career. I think I deserve it.

________________________

UFC 254: Khabib beats Gaethje in Abu Dhabi

________________________

"All this UFC team, everybody around the world, this whole pandemic stuff, they are doing a great show. Thank you so much Justin. Justin, in 2016 I remember when I cut weight, you helped me a lot. Thank you brother. I know you are a great man, I know how you take care of your people.

"I know a lot of things about of you, because of your parents, because one day, it’s going to happen something. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow, you never know.

"Today is my last fight here in UFC. It was my father’s dream. Dustin [Poirier] and Conor [McGregor] are going to fight in January – I choked them out, both of them. I’m not interested in this."

Making his first competitive appearance in 13 months, he will now surely be considered the promotion's lead pound-for-pound athlete having amassed 13 wins from 13 outings.

That streak meant Nurmagomedov possessed, however briefly given his retirement, the longest active winning streak in the promotion.

UFC 254 brought to a close “Return to Fight Island”, the five-event series in the capital.

Updated: October 25, 2020 01:11 PM

THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email