As much as we’d love to see him come back, Khabib Nurmagomedov is staying retired.
“The Eagle” accomplished one of the rarest feats in any sport: going out on top. After a 29th consecutive victory over Justin Gaethje in Oct. 2020 (watch highlights), Nurmagomedov announced that it was the last time fans would see him competing inside the Octagon.
In the time since then, new Lightweight stars have emerged atop the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ranks but none have been as dominant as the most recent champion, Charles Oliveira, and No. 3-ranked contender, Islam Makhachev. With Oliveira holding gold and continually looking better and more dominant with each passing victory, the community hasn’t been able to stop themselves from pondering how a showdown between him and Nurmagomedov would have gone down.
“I feel bad for these guys because people still talk about myself when it’s Islam and Charles’ time,” Nurmagomedov told The Underground. “I leave this alone but people have to leave me alone too because they have to give credit. People think I don’t respect Charles Oliveira, I respect him. How I can not respect him? He has 11 win streak. He beat a lot of good guys, he finish them. He’s great athlete, this is his time, just give him his credit. But please don’t forget about Islam, too. He have 10 win streak. They both deserve fight for the title and they have to fight for the title, forget about myself.”
While Nurmagomedov’s legacy and accomplishments will stand the test of time, it’s all relative according to the 33-year-old Dagestani destroyer. Everyone has their time, and it’s no longer his.
“Believe me, this is not about me. It was just when I was beginning my career, it was BJ Penn time,” Nurmagomedov explained. “After become Frankie Edgar, after become Benson Henderson then Anthony Pettis then [Rafael] dos Anjos then Eddie Alvarez then Conor [McGregor] then it was my time. Now is my time finished. Now is like Charles time, okay? After can become Islam time. You’re not gonna be on this game long time. Professional athletes’ career is very short. You can be on top only like few years. Four, five years and this is go very fast.
“When my time was? Of course, I’m like, ‘No way is people gonna talk about other fighter, other Lightweight.’ Because I’m here. Now I’m finished,” he concluded. “I leave this alone, just let these guys fight for the undisputed title. Islam vs. Charles and that’s it.”