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Khabib Nurmagomedov: Fighting ‘was never inside my heart,’ will ‘never’ return

UFC 280: Open Workouts Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Khabib Nurmagomedov is more than content with his retirement from mixed martial arts (MMA).

Achieving an undefeated record in MMA for any period of time is about as difficult of a task as is imaginable. For “The Eagle,” he managed to sustain that exact feat over the course of 29-straight appearances before calling it a career in Oct. 2020. Happily enjoying his roles as a coach and promoter, Nurmagomedov plans to keep things exactly how they are.

“Honestly no [I don’t miss it],” Nurmagomedov told The Muslim Money Guys podcast (h/t MMA Fighting). “When I miss something like competition, I go to the gym and wrestle, grapple, train. I spend my energy there. Like comeback? Go to the cage? No, I don’t miss it.

“Because all my life, it was on my hands, not inside my heart,” he continued. “It was never inside my heart. Of course, I like it, you have to love what you’re doing. I was a very big fan of sports because my goal was to become the best, to become the champion like everybody has to do. But, when I’m finished, I’m finished.”

Nurmagomedov has enjoyed a strong stretch as a coach in life after competing. Most notably, he’s aided one of the next Lightweight title challengers, Islam Makhachev.

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Makhachev is set to fight Charles Oliveira this weekend (Sat., Oct. 22, 2022) at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Nurmagomedov has continuously been linked to possibly fighting Oliveira — the former champion — at some point, especially if Oliveira defeats Makhachev.

Ultimately, the Dagestani Sambo master’s time has passed and he’s well aware of that.

“Nothing [would make me return],” Nurmagomedov said. “Never. I leave this sport alone, without myself. There is always going to be some champion without my name, too. It’s going to be Charles Oliveira, it’s going to be Islam or another name after Islam because Islam is not going to be there all his life. Short time, a couple of years, finished.

“This is a high-level sport,” he concluded. “I was champion, right now I’m not champion and this is normal. You can never be champion all like seven years, eight years. There is a couple of years, that’s your prime time. Finished, bye-bye. You can stay just to make money but you’ll never be champion.”

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