UFC president Dana White revealed on Thursday that lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov may not be walking away from the sport just yet. “The Eagle” defeated Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on October 24 and subsequently announced his retirement from MMA at 29-0.
However, the Russian may be backtracking. While speaking with Zach Gelb on Thursday, White said that nobody knew, including Nurmagomedov’s coaches, that the fighter was planning on retiring after his fight with Gaethje. However, the promotion’s president said that The Eagle may try to earn one more win inside the Octagon before hanging his gloves up for good.
“Khabib and I have been talking, and you know, he was completely emotional that night when he got through that fight,” White said. “I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0.”
On Saturday, Nurmagomedov revealed that he was retiring from the sport because his mother didn’t want him to compete without his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. Abdulmanap died in the summer from complications stemming from COVID-19. The Eagle was very close to his father as Abdulmanap was his coach, mentor and friend.
When asked if he believes Nurmagomedov will fight again, White said, “I do. I think he’s not going to retire. His dad wanted him to get to 30-0 and I think he wants to honor his dad’s wish.”
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Nurmagomedov Has Defeated 3 of the Top 5 Lightweights
Nurmagomedov is looked at by many as one of the greatest fighters ever. After winning the vacant lightweight title in April 2018 when he defeated Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision, The Eagle submitted three of the most elite lightweights in the world.
In his first title defense, Nurmagomedov won the grudge match against former lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor. The Eagle tapped out the Irishman in the fourth round with a neck crank.
Then, he defeated then-interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier by third-round rear-naked choke. In his last bout, Nurmagomedov toppled Gaethje, who was holding the interim belt, by second-round triangle choke.
McGregor, Poirier and Gaethje all currently sit inside the top five of lightweight. All three are also in the male pound-for-pound rankings, with Dustin Poirier at seven, Gaethje at 10 and McGregor at 11. Nurmagomedov is ranked No. 1 on the list.
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It’s Unclear Who Nurmagomedov Would Fight Should He Decide Not to Retire
With potentially one more fight left, it is unclear who Nurmagomedov would fight if he doesn’t walk away from the sport. There are two names in the top five that haven’t fought The Eagle, Tony Ferguson and Dan Hooker, however both fighters are coming off a loss.
It appears that McGregor and Poirier are going to fight on January 23, and the winner could earn themselves another shot at The Eagle.
Nurmagomedov has also expressed interest in fighting Georges St-Pierre for his 30th professional bout.
After Nurmagomedov announced his retirement, “GSP” reacted to the news, saying that he was very happy for the Russian and that he wouldn’t try to pull Nurmagomedov out of retirement. However, St-Pierre also stated that if The Eagle wanted to fight, both parties would discuss a potential match.
To read more about GSP’s comments on Nurmagomedov after UFC 254, tap the link below: