The Russian champion defeated American Justin Gaethje in the second round in the stellar fight at UFC254. And, visibly excited, he left the world of MMA without its top figure.
The Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov, star of the UFC, fought again this Saturday after the death of his father by coronavirus and prevailed by submission to the American Justin Ray Gaethje. He stretched his undefeated record to 29 wins in as many fights. And, after “sleeping” his rival in the second round, he threw a bomb that shook the growing world of Mixed Martial Arts: retires forever.
“Today is my last fight, there is no way I will fight again without my father, “said the Russian after the victory. His farewell is the goodbye of an MMA legend, perhaps the best fighter pound for pound.
He added: “I told my mother that this would be my last fight. I told the UFC to put me as number one in the pound-for-pound ranking after this. I deserve to be number one. This was my father’s dream“.
Nurmagomedov’s victory, with the emotional value of having been the return to the competition after the illness that ended the life of his father and legendary coach, is also very significant because he obtained it in a forceful way and against a rival like Gaethje, who he had scored 20 of his 22 submission wins.
Nurmagomedov, with a crushing record of 29 wins and no losses, gave Gaethje a triangle and put him to sleep in the second round.
The enormous knockout power of the American did not alter the plan of the Russian, who quickly closed distances and exchanged blows. In the second round he repeated the formula and got the advantage that allowed him to close the fight.
As soon as the referee declared victory, the Russian asked his corner to calm down, knelt in the center of the ring and burst into tears. There he remained for several seconds until Gaethje leaned in next to him to congratulate and comfort him.
Nurmagomedov’s father died last July in a Moscow hospital due to complications from the spread of coronavirus at only 57 years old.
Abdulmanap, a world-renowned mixed martial arts coach, suffered a heart attack after being diagnosed with the deadly COVID 19, which required emergency bypass surgery, after which he was twice put into a doctor-induced coma.
Irishman Conor McGregor, his great rival, was one of the first to congratulate the 32-year-old Russian on his brilliant career.
“Respect and condolences for your father, once again. To you and your family. Sincerely, the McGregors,” he wrote on Twitter on behalf of his family.