UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov returned home to Dagestan. The MMA fighter spoke to reporters for the first time since leaving the octagon at UFC 254.
“Of course (UFC president) Dana (White) wants me to continue fighting and generate revenue,” Nurmagomedov said in Russian, as translated by RT Sport. “I can make money myself. I’m at the peak of my career and can fight for very large purses, but I made this decision, and I think this is the best time. Not everyone can retire at their peak, but I know that in a year, two or five (years) I’d have to face that decision again. I did enough in the sport to be considered the best. Today, I was ranked as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, so the mission is accomplished. What else is there to do? Make money? I’ll always be able to do that.”
Nurmagomedov did release a partial vision for the future of the 155-pound title, though, and it centers around teammate Islam Makhachev.
“Life goes on, and our MMA academy is still running,” Nurmagomedov said. “Islam Makhachev got a fight on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas against a former lightweight champion (Rafael dos Anjos). It’s a major event or our team. Like my father said, when I leave there’ll be another champion. There won’t be another guy like me. It’ll be hard to repeat what I did. We are planning for Islam to win his fight and fight again before Ramadan to become a contender for the belt. Then next year in September or October, he’ll be here with his belt.”
According to everyone around him, Nurmagomedov’s decision to retire is something he kept to himself.
“Well, the emotions ran high,” Nurmagomedov said. “She knew, but I don’t think she expected me to announce it right after the fight. I did promise her that this would be my last fight, so she was aware.”