Khabib Nurmagomedov displayed a combination of remarkable presence of mind and incredible class when he decided to pursue the triangle choke against Justin Gaethje on Saturday night.
Moving to 29-0, Khabib Nurmagomedov choked Justin Gaethje unconscious in the much-anticipated UFC 254 main event and there’s a fascinating story behind the choice of submission.
Apparently, Nurmagomedov was initially setting up an armbar from mount after taking Gaethje down in the second round but the undefeated Russian was aware of the fact that his opponent likely wouldn’t tap out.
Nurmagomedov also knew that Gaethje’s parents were in the crowd at UFC 254 so he didn’t want to have to break Gaethje’s arm in front of them.
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) October 26, 2020
So, according to Nurmagomedov’s long-time AKA teammate and friend Daniel Cormier, ‘The Eagle’ switched from the armbar and finished with a triangle instead, ending the fight but not causing any unnecessary damage to Gaethje in front of his family.
“When he got there, he wanted to do the armbar,” Cormier said on ESPN.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 26, 2020
“But he had heard Justin all week say he would never tap. And he didn’t want to hurt him in front of his parents.
“So he went to the triangle and just kind of put him to sleep.”
Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after successfully defending his lightweight title, revealing that he’d promised his mother that it would be his last fight.
Nurmagomedov’s father passed away earlier this year and the world’s best lightweight was visibly emotional after closing out his career with one of his best performances.
“To be comfortable enough to think about this in the moment, that’s crazy,” Cormier continued.
“He didn’t want to break his arm, because if Justin doesn’t want to tap then you have to break it and he didn’t want to do that to him in front of his mom and dad. He said if ‘I put him to sleep, he’ll wake up and everything will be OK.'”