On Saturday, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after defeating Justin Gaethje by second-round triangle choke. The victory was “The Eagle’s” 29th, improving his professional MMA record to 29-0. And according to the Russian fighter, that is where his record will stay.
Since the passing of Nurmagomedov’s father in the summer, there has been a lot of talk of the fighter retiring after his 30th pro fight. The Eagle and his team confirmed the 30-0 plan many times to the media in the past few months. Furthermore, Nurmagomedov had shown interest in fighting former middleweight and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre for his 29th bout.
Although “GSP” had not said definitively that he would take the bout with The Eagle, he said many times that he was interested.
However, Nurmagomedov surprised the MMA community during his UFC 254 post-fight interview with Jon Anik when he announced that he was leaving his gloves inside the Octagon. The Russian said that his mother did not want him to compete without his father, and he wanted to fulfill her wish.
Since Nurmagomedov has retired, the potential superfight between him and GSP has been derailed.
Speaking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani after UFC 254, GSP, who praised The Eagle’s performance and career, said that he figured the UFC was going to pursue a fight between him and Nurmagomedov.
“That’s what I thought at first, that was going to happen because of the media. Because of what people were informing me, but it did not happen and I’m good where I am. Khabib, he is invincible now, he’s undefeated. It was a perfect career. There’s nothing bad we can say about him.”
GSP said that because of the circumstances surrounding Nurmagomedov’s retirement, he wouldn’t ask The Eagle to fight. He is very happy for the Russian fighter and completely supports his retirement. Later in the interview, St-Pierre mentioned that if The Eagle decided to fight again, then their managers could talk about a potential fight.
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GSP Gave Advice to Nurmagomedov, Tells Him to Follow His Heart
Helwani asked GSP for advice he’d give Nurmagomedov if he could speak to him.
“Khabib, follow your heart,” GSP said. “Follow what makes you happy and what makes people who you love happy. No pressure, take the right decision at the right time and the possibilities for you are limitless. Now you can do whatever you want and congratulations. What an amazing career. It was a perfect fight and a perfect career that you have.”
The journalist then asked GSP if he Nurmagomedov’s retirement also closed to door on the 39-year-old’s career. Laughing, GSP said, “Ariel, I retired almost three years ago. It’s only people that speculate about it. For me, I’m happy where I am. You never say never in life.
“I have a different mentality than other people. Some people it’s white or black. Me, it’s always grey in my life. I don’t believe there’s things that are not tangible, there’s always possibilities. I leave the door open but as it is now, it’s not. For me, I’ve been retired [for] three years, I’m good where I am.”
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GSP Would Have Considered Fighting Nurmagomedov If He Was Called Out on Saturday
The former two-division champion confirmed to Helwani that he would have considered fighting Nurmagomedov if the Russian called him out instead of retiring.
“I would have considered it,” GSP said. “Yeah of course. Who would not have done it. For a fighter, the most exciting things is also most often the scariest things to do. Fighting someone who has the aura of invincibility is very scary. But, it’s also very exciting for a competitor. I’m just blown away, what a great performance, what a great career.”
GSP also said he wouldn’t have taken the anticipated bout with Nurmagomedov if it was at 155 pounds because he feels the weight cut would have negatively affected his performance. He would have wanted to compete against The Eagle in a catchweight match between lightweight and welterweight.