The saga of Khabib Nurmagomedov continues, as he once again claims to be done with competing.
The UFC lightweight champion has been adamant that his fight against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 will go down as the last on his record. Despite that, UFC president Dana White has refused to take the title off of him, believing he can convince Nurmagomedov to come back for one last fight. In an interview with Esquire Middle East – which features ‘The Eagle’ on the cover of their March issue – Nurmagomedov made it clear he’s happy in retirement.
“Every day I woke up in the morning and started training, and in the evening my body was exhausted, because I had brought it to the limit,” Nurmagomedov said. “I just want to live a life in which I can get at least a little sleep before lunchtime, to live for myself and not devote myself 100 percent to sports.”
A large part of Nurmagomedov’s decision to call it a career had to do with his belief that he has nothing left to accomplish in the sport. After debuting in 2008, the Dagestani fighter ran up a perfect 29-0 record. He picked up victories over some of the best MMA has to offer in Gaethje, Conor McGregor, and Dustin Poirier. Feeling as though there is no one left that offers him a challenge, he is ready to step aside and help his teammates accomplish their goals.
“Now that I’m not going to train any more, I have people close to me—brothers and friends—who are now fighting at the highest level,” Nurmagomedov said. “There are about five or six people who we are building the path with, and I will help them, train with them, share my experiences. . . To some extent, this can be called a coaching life, but I am not going to fully enter into coaching. I will always be there and share my experience.”
Perhaps the most prominent of his “brothers and friends” is rising lightweight contender Islam Makhachev. The longtime friend and training partner of Nurmagomedov is on a 6-fight winning streak, and 7-1 in the UFC overall. The 29-year old will have a massive opportunity to further his place in the lightweight standings when he takes on Drew Dober on the PPV portion of this weekends stacked UFC 259. AKA head coach Javier Mendez has dubbed Makhachev as the heir apparent to the lightweight throne, and Nurmagomedov agrees that it is his time to shine (H/T MMA Fighting).
“Now, everybody talks about Dustin (Poirier), Conor (McGregor), (Michael) Chandler, Justin (Gaethje), (Charles) Oliveira,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN in a separate interview. “But by the end of the year, it’s gonna be changed. I don’t think anyone can beat (Makhachev) right now. He will run (the division).”
Do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov will stay retired? Will Islam Makhachev become the lightweight champion?