Nurmagomedov announced his U.F.C. retirement in the octagon after defending his lightweight title.


Three days before headlining U.F.C. 254 in Abu Dhabi, the main attraction, Khabib Nurmagomedov, told reporters he planned to retire as the undefeated, undisputed U.F.C. lightweight champion.

He seemed to mean he’d make that move eventually.

It turns out he intended to do it immediately.

He needed less than two rounds on Saturday night to dispatch a hard-punching American challenger, Justin Gaethje, in the main event of a fight card that the U.F.C. expected to threaten pay-per-view records in terms of viewership.

Nurmagomedov’s win unified the U.F.C.’s lightweight title, solidified his place as the organization’s top fighter, and was his first win after the death of his father and trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

After his victory, Nurmagomedov took the microphone during a post-fight interview and said he was leaving the sport.

“No way I’m going to come here without my father,” he said.

In the second, Gaethje landed a hard kick to Nurmagomedov’s thigh. When he tried another, Nurmagomedov grabbed his foot and mauled Gaethje. He wrapped himself around the challenger and eventually knotted his legs around Gaethje’s neck, locking him in a triangle choke that he couldn’t escape. Gaethje submitted barely two minutes into the round.

The win earned Nurmagomedov a cash bonus for the best performance of the night, and afterward he laid his gloves on the canvas and explained that he and his mother agreed he should retire.

“I promised her it was going to be my last fight,” he said. “I have to follow this.”

Dana White, the U.F.C. president, told a post-fight news conference that he didn’t begrudge Nurmagomedov his retirement.

“What he’s been through, we’re all lucky we got to see him fight tonight,” said White, who also revealed that Nurmagomedov competed with broken bones in his foot. “He’s one of the toughest people on the planet.”

Of course, other U.F.C. retirements have proved temporary.

The longtime light-heavyweight champion Randy Couture once retired in the octagon, only to return. And after the May 9 event in Jacksonville, the bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo announced his own retirement, but has said he would fight again for the right amount of money.

Nurmagomedov is in line for big paydays if he keeps fighting.

Earlier this month, he expressed interest in a superfight with the U.F.C. welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre, who is currently retired.


Sahred From Source link Sports