Khabib Nurmagomedov extended his perfect record in MMA to 29-0 by successfully defending his UFC lightweight championship against Justin Gaethje. Khabib looked dangerous and motivated from the opening bell, taking the fight to ‘The Highlight’ in the first round on the feet. While Gaethje was expected to have a massive advantage on the feet, ‘The Eagle’ more than held his own. However, the fight ended via submission in the second round, as Gaethje went out to a triangle.
Khabib Nurmagomedov was overcome with emotion upon beating Gaethje, taking time to be one with the cage he just fought in. This was Khabib’s first fight without his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov by his side. Evidently, being without his father took a big toll on him. The champion declared that he will be stepping away from the Octagon after this fight.
The tears that streamed down his face made the situation very real, as everyone knew how close he was to his dad. If Khabib feels like he can’t continue performing in the cage without his father, that’s his choice. Justin Gaethje extended respect himself by embracing Khabib after getting choked out.
The toll of preparing for this fight was evident on Nurmagomedov’s face after the win. He was supposed to make this title defense six months ago against Tony Ferguson. But he lost that fight to a pandemic. The same pandemic would take his father away from him a few months later, and Khabib somehow made it to the weirdest fight of his career. ‘The Eagle’ would win and leave his gloves in the cage, hammering home the retirement even more.
The strong performance against Gaethje proves that he has the mental toughness to power through whatever goes on in his mind and leave it all inside the cage. Despite going into a striking matchup, ‘The Eagle’ more than held his own and took it to Gaethje in the area he was supposed to lose.
Khabib’s retirement was sudden, but not shocking. He himself has said that he just wants to add to his legacy at this point. The only way he comes back is to face Georges St. Pierre, but those talks are down the road. However, the tears he left in the cage today are the symbol of the undying love he had for his father.
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