‘I Told Him to Give Up!’- Khabib Nurmagomedov Reveals the UFC Fighter Whom He Couldn’t Hurt

Published 06/20/2021, 1:18 AM EDT
LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 06: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia looks across the Octagon at his opponent Conor McGregor of Ireland in their UFC lightweight championship bout during the UFC 229 event inside T-Mobile Arena on October 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


UFC icon and former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will go down in history as one of the greatest mixed martial artists to ever grace the octagon. The Dagestani native bid adieu to the world of combat sports after his clash with Justin Gaethje last year at UFC 254.

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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: (L-R) Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia kicks Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Looking back at his time in MMA, the former champ dominated his opponents from start to finish. There was hardly an opponent who had troubled him in his matches. However, the one thing that never changed with Khabib, was that he showed admiration for his opponents after he won those fights (well, at least most of them).

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Recently, he appeared for an interview where one reporter praised him for showing respect to his opponents. He then asked Khabib about who was the hardest fighter to hurt.

“Out of all of them… I think, my last opponent,” Khabib replied. “Well, I can point out two of them- Justin Gaethje and Michael Johnson. When I trapped his (Johnson’s) hand and went for Kimura, I could have broken his arm. I told him to give up two or three times.”

He added, “I was executing the move very carefully because if you break an arm that way, it will never be the same. So I was very careful, rolling it very slowly and just asked him to give up.”

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Khabib Nurmagomedov on fighting with Justin Gaethje

Khabib (29-0) was the undisputed lightweight champion heading into his fight against Gaethje. The latter had earned his shot for the title after he defeated ‘El Cucuy’ Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title at UFC 249.

‘The Eagle’ successfully defended his crown eventually as he caught ‘The Highlight’ in a triangle choke. With that win, he announced his retirement from the sport.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia reacts after his submission victory over Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Talking about the fight, Khabib detailed why it was hard for him to hurt Gaethje. “As for Justin. First I went for his arm, and only then I moved onto the triangle choke,” he said.

“I realized, he would not give up, and I didn’t want to cripple his hand, so I went for the triangle choke. His parents were there in attendance, his father, his mother… in the front row. Footage doesn’t show it, but when I entered the cage, I could see them sitting there and looking at me,” he added.

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Following the conclusion of his fighting career, he has taken up more of a background role with other ventures. These include the launch of his own MMA promotion (Eagle FC) and constant teases about a switch to soccer. Hence, somehow or the other, he has kept his fans guessing about his next move.

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What did you make of Khabib’s revelation about Johnson?

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Akshyay Srichandan Mahapatra

415 articles

Akshyay Mahapatra is a UFC author for EssentiallySports. He wished to combine his passion for the UFC (that he has been following since 2008) as well as his love for writing. This motivated him to enter the world of combat sports journalism.

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