Khabib Nurmagomedov has announced his shock retirement after beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
Khabib returned to the cage for the first time in over a year on Sunday, submitting Gaethje to defend his lightweight title.
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The Dagestani locked in his formidable triangle choke during the second round, leaving his opponent no option but to tap.
Khabib then broke down in tears in the middle of the octagon as he soaked up his victory, before dropping the bombshell news that he’s retiring.
“This was my last fight,” he said.
“No way I can come here without my father. When UFC call me with Justin, I talk with my mother for three days.
“I promise it will be my last fight. If I give my word, I have to follow this.”
— UFC (@ufc) October 24, 2020
Khabib’s father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov died in July after a series of complications from COVID-19.
After taking his UFC record to 29-0, Khabib said he had no interest in any upcoming fights.
“Dustin (Poirier) and Conor (McGregor) going to fight in January. I've choked out both of them. I'm not interested in this,” he said.
The UFC world took to social media in shock at Khabib’s retirement announcement.
McGregor was among those to fire out a tweet, writing: “Good performance @TeamKhabib. I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors.”
Good performance @TeamKhabib.
I will carry on.
Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family.
Yours sincerely, The McGregors.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 24, 2020
— Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) October 24, 2020
Congratulations to the greatest champion in @ufc history. What a career, we are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with you my brother. 29-0 undefeated and undisputed. #weareaka #eaglesmma #fathersplan #heissoproud @TeamKhabib pic.twitter.com/uXjiT34JuV
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 24, 2020
I want to congratulate Khabib for an outstanding career. I know he made his father along with millions of fans around the world incredibly proud today. May God continue to bless him on his journey.
— BONY (@JonnyBones) October 24, 2020
He’s definitely #1 pound for pound!! Congratulations on a great career #UFC254
— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) October 24, 2020
— Shane Burgos (@HurricaneShaneB) October 24, 2020
Oh my God @TeamKhabib what a champion, what a legacy. I was a bag of nerves before the fight and now I have legit tears flowing 😭. What an emotional end to an incredible, perfect career.
Choked out his most dangerous challenge in the second round, utter domination#UFC254
— Neko_no_Kaizokou (@NNK1292) October 24, 2020
— Jai R @ ...? (@rawrjair) October 24, 2020
29-0 and leaving the game on top.
Congrats on a fantastic career, Khabib. pic.twitter.com/4AnKLnjBw1
— DAZN USA (@DAZN_USA) October 24, 2020
Gutted that Khabib is retiring tonight. His fathers plan is complete. It would’ve been hard for him to go on without his father. He’s the best to ever do it. Undefeated and Undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion. What a career! Happy retirement!🙏🏼 @TeamKhabib @ufc #UFC254 pic.twitter.com/Jt8Sp0ZFQt
— Ross Edmonds (@RosssEdmonds) October 24, 2020
Rob Whittaker’s dominant victory
Earkier, Robert Whittaker won his fight against American Jared Cannonier to make a strong case for a rematch with middleweight king Israel Adesanya.
In his second bout on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in three months, the Australian outworked Cannonier before dropping him in the third and final round to get a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Whittaker has now won five of his last six fights and is seeking nother shot at Kiwi Adesanya, who took his world title a year ago in Melbourne.
“I'm very happy,” former world champion Whittaker said from the Octagon.
“Obviously we got the result we wanted. It was a good fight, he's a tough guy.”
In a technical striking showcase, the 29-year-old looked a level above Cannonier, who had not fought in more than a year after undergoing pectoral surgery.
His left jab continually peppered the American's eye, although Cannonier landed some heavy leg kicks that left serious marks behind Whittaker's knee.
After two fairly even rounds, Whittaker set up a combination that he capped off with a staggering head kick and Cannonier went down.
Whittaker stayed on top for more than two minutes before the American scrambled to his feet.
He threw everything at Whittaker to try to land a winning blow but the Australian was able to ride out the fight.
Whittaker has now won five of his last six fights and is seeking another shot at Kiwi Adesanya, who took his world title a year ago in Melbourne.
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