UFC 254 featured a fight for lightweight royalty as dominant undefeated champ Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov took on interim champ Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje.
Gaethje was considered by many as probably the toughest test of Nurmagomedov’s career keeping in mind his wrestling pedigree to go along with his striking. Nurmagomedov, however, nullified all of that as he submitted Gaethje to sleep to defend his belt for the third time.
The win extended his MMA record to an undefeated and unprecedented 29-0 (13-0 UFC). There were many interesting opportunities lying ahead of him considering he’s only 32, however, in his post-fight interview, Khabib announced his heartfelt and emotional retirement from the sport.
Jones expresses his frustration on social media!
The retirement and his overall journey also circulated an opinion of Khabib being considered as ‘The greatest of all time (GOAT)’. Nurmagomedov proposed him being the GOAT in his post-fight interview. UFC President Dana White reiterated the same. However, that did not go well with the current pound-for-pound #1 and former light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
‘Bones’ took a jab at the UFC on his social media. He claimed him being moved down in the rankings is not ‘fair’ to him, his family, or the people who have contributed to his success:
“I’m just going to ask for the heavyweight championship belt and see if they give it to me. Since we can just ask for things now.”“Yet people want me to stay quiet and let him have his moment while I just sit back and watch my hard work get moved down the rankings. It’s not fair to my family or the team of people who have sacrificed to get me this far”
Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the best fighters to ever step inside the MMA octagon!
Nurmagomedov’s retirement was understandable keeping in mind his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away earlier in July from complications arising from COVID-19. Abdulmanap has been a pioneer of the sport in Russia and has been the primary coach, mentor, and best friend for Khabib.
Khabib made his UFC debut back in January 2012 with a record of 16-0. What made him stood out is his unique style of fighting. Being a master of Sambo, which is a mixture of wrestling with submissions, his dominating style had him under the radar.
Nurmagomedov became the UFC lightweight champion by dominating late replacement Al Iaquinta. That set up for an ugly rivalry against arch-rival Conor McGregor. He then took on McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018. He again mauled McGregor before submitting him in the fourth round. The fight is the highest watched MMA fight to date.
He then took on another interim champion Dustin Poirier. Poirier was coming off with consecutive wins over four former world champions, but Khabib made it looked easy as he submitted Poirier at UFC 242 in September last year.
He will be forever known as one of the best fighters to have ever graced the MMA octagon.