Sunday Oct 25, 2020
PARIS: MMA world lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his shock retirement from the sport on Saturday after revealing he "promised his mother" that his clash with Justin Gaethje would be his last fight.
The Russian, who won by a second-round technical knockout, was fighting for the first time since the death of his father and coach Abdulmanap in July.
"I'm the UFC undisputed, undefeated champion with a 13-0 record (in UFC), and 29-0 in all of my pro MMA career," he said after his win in Abu Dhabi.
"Today, I want to say this is my last fight. No way am I coming here without my father. When UFC comes to me about Justin, I spoke with my mother for three days.
"She didn't want me to fight without father and I said this is my last fight — and I have given her my word.
He added: "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 (McGregor) will fight in January, I have choked both out, I am not interested in this."
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, 57, passed away after suffering complications from Covid-19 in the summer.
Long time rival McGregor of Ireland, who lost to Nurmagomedov in 2018, was amongst the first to congratulate the 32-year-old Russian on his career.
"I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors," he tweeted.
UFC president Dana White joined the tributes and revealed at a news conference as Fight Island ended that Nurmagomedov had broken his foot in the build-up to Saturday's event.
"What this guy's been through, we're all lucky we got to see him fight tonight," said White.
"Apparently he was in the hospital. He broke his foot three weeks ago. So he has two broken toes and a bone in his foot that's broken - that's what his corner was telling me. Never told anybody.
"He is one of the toughest human beings on the planet and he's the number-one pound-for-pound fighter in the world and, seriously, you have to start putting him up there with GOAT (greatest of all time) status with whoever else you think is the GOAT."
American Gaethje, 31, is now 22-3 in his career in UFC.
Justin Gaethje says: "I felt alive, that's why I stepped in here man. My endorphins have been released. Khabib did what he had to do. He made his father so proud.
"I fight for a living, the best thing about being choked out is that there's nothing consequential to your health. I said I had five wars left and I haven't had one since I said that.
"Six to eight weeks I want to fight again."
Khabib says, “God gives me everything. Thank you for these guys with me and to my father, all my team, I love them so much. Thank you.”
“Today, I want to say this is my last fight.
“When UFC called me about Justin, I spoke with my mother and I said I wouldn't fight without father.
“And if I give my word, then I must follow it. UFC must make me No 1 pound for pound fighter in the world, because I deserve it.
“I want to say thank you to Lorenzo and Dana.
“All this UFC team, everybody, they made a great show.
“Thank you to Justin, thank you, brother. I know how you take care of your people. One day something will happen for you, you never know what is going to happen tomorrow.
“Today is my last fight here in the UFC.
Khabib breaks into tear as he beats the opponent Justin Gaethje with the takedown.
Round 2 is all for Khabib who makes his opponent tap
Using both punches and kicks to nail the round, Khabib amps up the pressure and gets a takedown before getting him into before making Gaethke tap in triangle position.
Both players looked cautious in the opening exchanges. Khabib takes the lead with a right hand.
Gaethke's leg kick misses. Khabib's try for a takedown snuffed out.
With slower pace earlier, the second half sees more efforts as restless Khabib is no mood to leave his opponent. However, he lands into Gaethke's big left hand. And, it ends with Khabib's first takedown of the fight.
Round one of the most-anticipated lightweight title unification fight gets underway.
Gaethje heads to the Octagon.