Khabib Nurmagomedov reacts after defeating Justin Gaethje at the Flash Forum on Yas Island.
Walking away at the peak of his career, undefeated UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov, 32, announced his retirement after defeating Justin Gaethje on Saturday as the Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to the UAE capital for another Fight Island spectacle.
He said he's stepping away from the ring in the wake of his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov's death in July from COVID-19 complications.
"Today, this was my last fight," the Russian fighter said. "Ain't no way I'm going to come here without my father."
"It was my first time after what happened with my father," he continued. "When UFC called me about Justin, I talk with my mother three days. She don't (want me) go fight without father but I promise her it's gonna be my last fight, and if I give my word I have to follow this. It was my last fight here."
"Thank you so much Justin. I know you are great, I know how you take care of your people. Be close with your parents, because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow.
"Thank you coach, thank you guys. Today is my last fight in the UFC. It was my father's dream. Justin and Conor will fight in January, I have choked both out, I am not interested in this."
Khabib finished his fighting career with a 29-0 career record and 13-0 UFC record.
Shortly after his announcement, Khabib posted a photo on Instagram of himself with his father. "When ALLAH with you, nobody can broke you, nobody. Thanks Father for everything, you teach all my life, may ALLAH grant you the highest Paradise," he wrote.
Tributes flooded in for the champ, but many took notice of McGregor also wishing his long-time rival the best in retirement. Khabib defeated McGregor back in 2018 and the bitter lead up to the fight prompted the Dagestani champ to jump towards the Irishman’s team in an infamous post-match spat. But McGregor put the rivalry behind him and also reiterated his condolences to the Nurmagomedov family after the death of Khabib’s father.
UFC President Dana White reacted to the fighter's retirement while speaking to reporters, saying, "He is one of the toughest human beings on the planet. He's the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world and, seriously, you have to start putting him up there at GOAT status."
The UFC community were quick to heap praise on Khabib and many labelled him the greatest to ever have competed in the sport.
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