UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov retired inside the cage following his second round win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, closing the door on a number of potential “super” fights that would have made several boatloads of cash. At the top of the list: a rematch against Conor McGregor, and a bout with fellow G.O.A.T. contender Georges St-Pierre.
McGregor’s response to his nemesis’ decision has been gracious enough given all the animosity between them. And of course who would expect anything but pure class from Georges St-Pierre, who gushed about Khabib’s performance and overall career in an interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
“A lot of fighters in our sport has a tendency to finish too late in their career,” GSP said. “So their stock is going down, and then it close the door for many opportunities that a lot of elite athletes could have as an after career. Khabib has a choice now. He’s a perfect role model for the community.”
“I always feel sad when I see an athlete taking too many fights,” he continued. “A champion. Taking too many fights, and retire, having very bad performance and affect the well-being. That’s something I really don’t wish to someone. Khabib did an amazing decision, I think. In life, everything has a beginning and an end. The life of a professional athlete, even an elite athlete, has a window. If you fight past that window, that’s when the problems arise and appear.”
As for the endless rumors that Khabib wanted to end his career at 30-0 with a fight against the former Welterweight and Middleweight champ?
“That’s what I thought at first was going to happen, because of the media, what people have informed me,” St-Pierre said. “But it did not happen, and I’m good where I am. Khabib is invincible now, he is undefeated, it was the perfect career, nothing you can say bad about him. It’s the perfect career. 29-0 and retiring on top with the best performance of his career. What do you want more? It was the perfect fight and the perfect career. As close as it gets.”
When GSP retired, Khabib came out and asked him to reconsider so they could fight. Now that the situation is somewhat reversed, would Georges do the same?
“Maybe, normally I would,” he replied. “But because of the circumstances, I would never dare to do that. I am not in his shoes, he is going through a tough time because his father passed away. He needs time to mourn his father. I respect Khabib a lot. What we do is a sport. This goes beyond sport, goes on to the human side, and I just wish him and his family — he made a promise — the best. I’m very happy as a fan of Khabib to see the way he finish his career.”
“As a competitor, maybe I would have liked to have an agreement to have a fight, to organize it for us as a fighter but also the fans. But as a human being I’m very very happy for him.”
As for whether St-Pierre thinks Khabib’s retirement will stick and their potential fight is gone forever?
“I don’t want to say anything that will speculate in any way that we could make a fight,” St-Pierre said. “Because I don’t want the reporters to put that in his headline, ‘What about Georges?’ It’s a disrespect to the turn of events that has happened to his life. I want him to go with his family and peace and have peace of mind. Not thinking about fighting ... just relax and enjoy your retirement.”
“One day if he wants to come back and do it, our managers will talk, whatever. But man, what a great way, what a legacy, what a model in the sport. It’s unbelievable.”