Retirements in combat sports often have to be taken with a pinch of salt but when Khabib Nurmagomedov left his gloves in the middle of the Octagon last Saturday night, most believed he was gone for good.
Khabib Nurmagomedov revealed that he’d promised his mother that his UFC 254 title fight with Justin Gaethje would be his last after Nurmagomedov’s father passed away earlier this year.
The undefeated Russian explained how he would not continue fighting without his father as Nurmagomedov walked away from the sport with a perfect professional record of 29-0.
And while Nurmagomedov’s sincerity was clear for all to see, recent conversations between him and Dana White have led the UFC President to believe that ‘The Eagle’ might come back for one last fight.
“Khabib and I have been talking,” White told The Zach Gelb Show.
“He was completely emotional that night when he got through that fight. I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0.
“I think that he’s not going to retire. His dad wanted him to get to 30-0, and I think he wants to honour his dad’s wish.”
While Nurmagomedov has virtually cleaned out the UFC lightweight division, there are a number of interesting match-ups for him if he did decide to come back for one more.
The cursed clash with Tony Ferguson is considered the most frustrating one that got away in the eyes of most fight fans, while there’s enough hostility between Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor to justify the rematch, despite the Russian’s dominant submission win two years ago.
There’s also the opportunity to move up to welterweight and challenge for a second world title. Nurmagomedov is a big 155lber who cuts quite a lot of weight and the stylistic match-up with 170lbs champion Kamaru Usman would make for fascinating viewing.