The UFC is no stranger to unexpected events on and off the Octagon, and it encountered another shocking twist last week as undefeated UFC lightweight champion and universally beloved fighter, Khabib Nurmagomedov, emotionally announced his retirement. He did it after tapping out contender Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
While fans are still remembering Khabib’s legendary career, though, UFC president Dana White was quick to share his prediction on the freshly-retired champ. White was on The Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports Radio earlier this week and had this to say:
“Khabib and I have been talking … He was completely emotional that night when he got through that fight. I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0 … I think that he’s not going to retire. His dad wanted him to get to 30-0, and I think he wants to honor his dad’s wish.”
As you know, Khabib’s father, who’s been his confidant and lifelong trainer, passed away last July due to complications to COVID-19. It’s been tough for the family, and Khabib noted that it was indeed his main reason for deciding to call it quits.
“There is no way I’m going to come here without my father … It was my first time, after what happened with my father. When UFC call me about Justin, I talk with my mother [for] three days. She don’t want me to go fight without father. I promise her it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow this.”
So, will Khabib return? And does he need to?
In terms of showcasing his abilities, the man is obviously very much cleared. He has nothing left to prove as he has shown time and again just how vicious and dominating he can be – heck, he’s so in control in his fights, he has made it a habit to talk trash to his opponents while he’s beating them up.
In fact, in his unblemished 29-0 record, you’ll be hard-pressed to name someone who gave him problems – it’s unlike any unbeaten fighter out there, retired or not. The closest was probably Al Iaquinta during UFC 223, and even that wasn’t close. He deservingly earned the unanimous decision.
Further, as a certified legend and future Hall-of-Famer, Khabib also had an exit that 99.9% of athletes can only dream off – he did it while he’s on top and undefeated. He walked off into the sunset like a classic badass movie protagonist would.
How possible is Dana White’s prediction?
There’s a little opening in there. It’ll depend if Khabib’s father did strongly desire to have Khabib reach 30-0, or it was just in mentioned lightly – if it was really a “wish,” he may ultimately decide to fulfil it. It’s a great record to have, and it’s almost unbreakable.
For now, though, I believe The Eagle will be resting for the time being. He won’t think about suiting up again for at least a few years.