Khabib Nurmagomedov dropped a bombshell on the combat world after he submitted Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 last Saturday (Oct. 24, 2020) on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, announcing his retirement (see it again here). It was so surprising that not even his head coach, Javier Mendez, knew it was coming.
Now six days removed from the pay-per-view (PPV) event, it seems things might have changed. That’s according to a gut feeling from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White, who says he’s been chatting with “The Eagle” and thinks the 155-pound champion will come back for one more fight.
“No, nobody knew. Not even his coach. Nobody knew,” White told CBS Sports Radio regarding Khabib’s abrupt retirement. “I was sitting there saying, ‘Oh my god, you have to be kidding me. But I will tell you this, and I haven’t told anybody this yet, Khabib and I have been talking.
“He was completely emotional that night when he got through that fight,” he continued. “I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0. I don’t think he is going to retire. His dad wanted him get to 30-0. And I think he wants to honor his dad’s wish.”
Immediately following his win, Khabib broke down in tears in the center of the cage, overcome with emotion since it was the first fight following the death of his father and trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. It was also the first time in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career that he competed without having his father cage side or in the training room helping him prepare.
And while Khabib did mention that the reason he was retiring was because he made a promise to his mother that he wouldn’t continue fighting without his dad by his side, White was adamant “The Eagle” really wants to honor his late father’s goal of reaching 30-0.
As far as who could be Nurmagomedov’s final opponent, White wouldn’t say, keeping everything close to his vest, including not revealing the “special” surprise he had in line for the undefeated champion (29-0, 13-0 UFC) before he called it a day.
While this is good news for all you “Eagle” fans out there, it won’t be official until the champ himself makes it so.