Khabib Nurmagomedov announces retirement after beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254

Khabib Nurmagomedov has announced his retirement from mixed martial arts after successfully defending his UFC lightweight title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

Nurmagomedov extended his unbeaten record to 29-0 with a second-round submission win in Abu Dhabi – his third successful title defence, having previously beaten Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.

It was also the Russian’s first fight without his father and coach, Abdulmanap, who died from complications caused by coronavirus earlier this year, and one he went into with a broken foot.

In an emotional post-fight interview, Nurmagomedov said: “Today I want to say this is my last fight. No way am I coming here without my father. When UFC called me about Justin I spoke with my mother for three days.

Khabib retires from UFC

“She didn’t want me to fight without father and I said this is my last fight – and I have given her my word.

“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.”

UFC president Dana White revealed after the fight that Nurmagomedov had competed with a broken foot and that by retiring with a 29-0 record he has to be considered as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.

“What this guy’s been through, we’re all lucky that we got to see him fight tonight,” said White. “I’m hearing rumours of other things that I didn’t know about that you guys will hear about when he comes out later, I’m sure.

“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 or something like that. That’s what his corner was telling me.

“He is one of the toughest human beings on the planet. He is just the number one pound for pound fighter in the world. And seriously, I have to start putting him up there at G.O.A.T. status with whoever else you think is the G.O.A.T.”

Nurmagomedov first claimed the UFC lightweight title with a points decision win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in 2018 before defending the title against McGregor in Las Vegas later that year at UFC 229.

McGregor took to social media on Saturday night to congratulate Nurmagomedov and confirmed he would continue in the sport, even without the prospect of a rematch with the Russian.

“Good performance @TeamKhabib,” McGregor wrote on Twitter.

“I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors.”