Khabib Nurmagomedov says decision to retire was ‘concrete’

Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov retired following his UFC 254 submission win over Justin Gaethje with an undefeated professional record.

Nurmagomedov made a promise to his mother that he’d walk away from the sport and vacate his title, and that’s what he did in October 2020. It took a few months for Nurmagomedov’s decision to be accepted by some, including UFC president Dana White. After repeated attempts to draw Nurmagomedov back inside the octagon for one more fight, White announced in March 2021 that the lightweight title was vacant.

“The Eagle” regularly gets asked if he’s going to come back, especially when a big fight in the 155-pound weight class is about to take place, or just happened. He doesn’t mind the questions, but called the decision to retire a ‘concrete’ one.

“I wouldn’t say I hear it (questions about returning) less. Whenever something happens in the lightweight division everyone asks me about it. ‘Khabib needs to come back.’ ‘When will you return?,” Nurmagomedov told UFC in a video interview.

“I get a lot of messages asking if I watched the fight,” continue Nurmagomedov. “I understand the sentiment. I retired at my peak as a champion.

“Before me, many guys have done this trick where they’d ‘retire’ and raise their price tag. Then he’d get paid and come back. I understand those people as well. Overall, I’m very easy-going about that.”

Nurmagomedov stepped away as champion. He defended the title three times, and has no doubt that he could have continued if he chose to.

“You have to take in account why I left,” he said. “I had personal reasons for doing so having to do with my family, my father. Of course I could continue. People forget that. They think I left to negotiate a better contract, to negotiate more for my return. That’s not what happened. It was a concrete decision. I see no way how it can change. At least not now.”

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