UFC president Dana White finally relented on Thursday. He declared that undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is officially retired.
“He is 100-percent officially retired. It was incredible to watch you work Khabib,” White wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for EVERYTHING and enjoy whatever is next my friend.”
The announcement stemmed from a final meeting between them in which Khabib reiterated his intent to remain retired. Up until now, White had been holding onto hope that he or one of the lightweight contenders could persuade Khabib to continue fighting.
“Dana, thank you so much brother and the entire UFC team for the opportunity to prove myself, you guys have changed many lives forever because of this sport,” Khabib wrote on Instagram.
“Dana – I’ll never forget your attitude towards me, my father did not forget and my sons will remember you. Today, there was a real conversation between real men.”
Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler set for UFC lightweight title
Shortly after Khabib’s retirement got the final stamp on it, ESPN reported that the UFC had moved swiftly to determine a new champion.
The thoughts of a possible lightweight tournament were cast to the wayside.
The UFC instead opted to match no. 3 ranked Charles Oliveira against no. 4 ranked Michael Chandler to battle it out for the lightweight belt at UFC 262 on May 15. A location for UFC 262 has yet to be announced.
“Khabib is retired and doesn’t wanna hold up the division,” White told ESPN, via text message, before confirming the plans for Oliveira vs. Chandler. “Tonight was our final meeting and he is retired.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC legacy
Khabib leaves behind a legacy as one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time.
Having risen to prominence in Russia and Ukraine, amassing a 16-0 record, he was no less impressive in tearing through the UFC’s lightweight ranks.
Khabib made his Octagon debut with a rear-naked choke finish of Kamal Shalorus in 2012. He never looked back.
He defeated the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Michael Johnson, and Edson Barboza en route to winning the UFC lightweight title against late-substitution Al Iaquinta in 2018.
Khabib then reeled off successive submission finishes of Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje in defending his crown.
Having lost his father to illness prior to the Gaethje bout, Khabib after the fight declared that he was retired. White held on, hoping that Khabib’s decision was a heat-of-the-moment type of move that he would rescind.
He did not. Khabib promised his mother that he was not going to fight again without his father. He is intent on keeping that promise.
Khabib Nurmagomedov retires at the age of 32 with his 29-0 record intact. He will be remembered as one of the most dominant champions in UFC history.
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