KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV opened up about the “really tough decision” to withdraw from the UFC – which shocked those close to him.
Nurmagomedov made the shocking announcement after submitting Justin Gaethje in the second round of their UFC 254 headliner on Fight Island.
It was his first fight since the loss of his father and influential mentor Abdulmanap, who died at the age of 57 in July.
Nurmagomedov, 32, made the choice to honor his title defense against Gaethje, 31, but felt the time had come to walk away.
He said: “Immediately after [the death of my father] they offered me a fight, I had to make a decision: either end my career or come back, fight and after that leave.
“Some people close to me weren’t happy that I finished my career, but I said to them, ‘Even if I fight for another 10 years, there will come a time when I will have to leave. ”
“That decision would come anyway, at 32, 34 or 35.
“It was a very difficult decision for me, because I have been doing this my whole life, as far back as I can remember, and leaving everything and reformatting is a difficult task.
“People don’t understand this, but we’ll try – we’ll move on.
“I know that not only in Dagestan there are a lot of people supporting me, in Russia and in the world there are a lot of fans. “
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Nurmagomedov moved up to 29-0 after choking Gaethje and then dedicated the victory to Abdulmanap.
Previously, Khabib revealed that his father wanted him to retire after 30 fights, preferably by bringing out UFC legend Georges St-Pierre, 39.
And UFC president Dana White believes Nurmagomedov could reverse his emotional decision to retire and come back for one last fight.
White a dit Zach Yellow: “I’ll tell you this, and I haven’t told anyone yet, but Khabib and I have spoken.
“He was completely moved that night when he went through that fight. I have a feeling he could go for 30-0.
“I think he won’t retire. His father wanted him to reach 30-0, and I think he wants to honor his father’s wish. “