Undisputed UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has opened up on his decision to retire from mixed martial arts.
Khabib last fought at UFC 254 in late October, when he defeated Justin Gaethje, widely viewed as his toughest challenger to date, with a second-round triangle choke. After the win, which elevated his record to an incredible 29-0, he announced his retirement from MMA.
While some members of the MMA community believe Khabib will stick to his retirement, others are skeptical, including UFC President Dana White, who still hasn’t stripped the retired Russian of his title.
Speaking to Sergei Melikov, the acting Head of his native Dagestan, Khabib opened up on his decision to retire, and acknowledged that his doubters don’t understand his reasoning.
“This fight was like no other,” Khabib, who recently lost his father, said (via RT Sport). “The emotions in this fight were completely different. Everything was completely different without my father. I was offered the fight right after everything happened. I had the decision to accept it or turn it down, nobody knew about this, or retire, or I could come back, fight and then retire. Now I tell the people close to me that aren’t happy with me retiring that even if I fought 10 more times, I’d still have to face that decision. This decision could come up when I’m 32, 34, 35. It’s a hard decision because I’ve been fighting all my life. I’ve been on the mats for as long as I remember. It’s difficult to leave and do something else. People can’t understand it, but what can you do?”
Khabib went on to thank the people of Dagestan for their supporting, adding that he it brings him great pride to represent the region internationally.
“I have many supporters in not just Dagestan but all of Russia and around the world,” Khabib said. “I have a responsibility to them, that responsibility worried me. I had serious injuries. I was hospitalized for five days in mid-September. Then I came back and broke my toe. Those words about overcoming yourself are true. If a person doesn’t break psychologically, it will be hard to break them physically because the mind breaks before bones.
“Everything that happened to me psychologically before this fight gave me strength I can’t describe, inside and outside of the octagon, during my weight cut and preparation,” Khabib said. “A big factor in that strength was the immense support of my fans. My father and I always used to meet fans when we arrived at the airport. This time we thought it would be best not to gather a lot of people. Given this chance, I’d like to thank them for the emotional support. Dagestan doesn’t always show the best image on TV and the internet, (so) I get a lot of motivation when my victories bring positivity to our people.”
Do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov will stick to his retirement?