Khabib Nurmagomedov
The Eagle


Keeps door open for return
January 16, 2021
Nurmagomedov kept the door open for a potential return to the Octagon, per an announcement from Dana White on Saturday, but has no imminent plans to do so, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
Nurmagomedov made a surprising retirement announcement after defending his lightweight belt against Justin Gaethje in October, honoring a promise to his mother following the unexpected death of his father. A return to action doesn't appear close, and he told White that he didn't want to tie up the division, but he didn't rule out a potential return if anyone in the division particularly impressed him. It's worth noting, however, that the news was relayed by White rather than Nurmagomedov himself, so the extent to which it accurately portrays the fighter's thoughts isn't entirely clear.
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Shockingly retires following win
October 24, 2020
Nurmagomedov successfully defended his UFC Lightweight Championship on Saturday, defeating Justin Gaethje via technical submission (arm triangle) at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi. He announced his retirement after the bout.
Clearly overcome by emotion due to the recent, unexpected death of his father and after making a promise to his mother, Khabib shockingly announced his retirement after the fight, leaving his gloves in the center of the Octagon. We'll see if it sticks, but this doesn't have the feel of your typical "retirement" in hopes of raising your paycheck. To say he would be stepping away at the height of his career would be the understatement of the century. The gap between Khabib and the rest of the division grows larger by the day. That's saying something considering it's already about the size of the Atlantic Ocean. Gaethje is one of the most creative offensive fighters in the sport, and Khabib limited him to nothing due to his constant pressure. Justin actually connected with a vicious leg kick prior to the finish, but Khabib responded by grabbing him and ripping him to the mat before eventually choking him out. If this is indeed it for Khabib, he retires with a perfect 29-0 record and goes down as arguably the most dominant fighter in the history of the sport. While he doesn't necessarily appear to be a fighter whose primary motivation is money, Khabib will walk away with an extra $50,000 for his efforts here after being awarded Performance of the Night honors.
UFC 254 main event set
October 23, 2020
Nurmagomedov successfully weighed in at 155 pounds Friday morning and is approximately a (-310) betting favorite for Saturday's lightweight championship fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov rightfully enters this matchup as one of the biggest betting favorites on the card, as he sports a spotless 28-0 professional record, with 12 of those victories coming under the UFC banner. He's faced some of the best the lightweight division has to offer, submitting Dustin Poirier in September of 2019 and doing the same to Conor McGregor the year before. He now takes on a tremendously respectable challenger in interim champion Justin Gaethje, who brings a unique challenge to the table. Gaethje is one of the highest-volume strikers in UFC history who also has an iron chin, so on paper, Nurmagomedov would be at a slight disadvantage in the striking department. Where Khabib has always excelled is in the wrestling game, however, as he averages an other-worldly 5.35 takedowns per 15 minutes of fight time. Gaethje does enter this contest as a former All-American wrestler himself, and sports an 80 percent takedown defense in the UFC, but no fighter to date has been able to stop Khabib from taking whatever he wants on the mat. If Nurmagomedov successfully executes his takedown-heavy game plan and spends much of the fight in top position, he'll likely be able to cruise to victory.
Taking on Gaethje at UFC 255
July 28, 2020
UFC president Dana White announced Tuesday that Nurmagomedov (28-0-0) will return to the Octagon on Oct. 24 to face Justin Gaethje (22-2-0) in a lightweight match at UFC 255, Simon Head of USA Today reports.
Back in the Octagon for the first time since September 2019, Nurmagomedov returns to competitive fighting with a heavy heart following the death of his father and coach, Abdulmanap, earlier this month due to COVID-19-related complications. The lightweight champion had previously been scheduled to defend his belt against Tony Ferguson in April at UFC 249, but Nurmagomedov's withdrawal from that event allowed Gaethje to step in and claim the interim title. Expect the Nurmagomedov-Gaethje fight to serve as the headliner for the Oct. 24 event, which will be held at a yet-to-be-determined venue.
Plans to fight before end of 2020
July 18, 2020
Nurmagomedov's manager confirmed Saturday that the rumors of 31-year-old contemplating retirement are false and that he plans to fight Justin Gaethje before the end of the year, The Daily Mail reports.
Nurmagomedov was scheduled to defend his UFC Lightweight Title against Tony Ferguson back in April, but the fight was canceled because he was unable to leave his home in Russia due to the country being put on lockdown as a result of the pandemic. Nurmagomedov was hit with more bad news at the beginning of July when his father passed away due to COVID-19 complications. After reports surfaced that Nurmagomedov was stepping away from the UFC to mourn the loss of his father, rumors swirled that he had actually ended up retiring. Those rumors were put to bed Saturday after his Nurmagomedov's manager confirmed that he would be fighting Gaethje before 2020 is over. UFC President Dana White has yet to set an official date or location for the fight to take place. His initial hope was for this matchup to serve as the main event of UFC 253, but that spot will instead be taken by Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa.
Confirmed off UFC 249
April 1, 2020
Nurmagomedov confirmed Wednesday via a personal Instagram post that he will not be fighting at UFC 249 on April 18.
This had essentially already been confirmed Tuesday when Nurmagomedov confirmed via Instagram live that he was back home in Russia, and alluded to being unable to fight with the country on lockdown due to COVID-19. The UFC already has moved on and offered Tony Ferguson a fight against Justin Gaethje, but it's still unclear whether both parties are in agreement. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov is set to observe the Ramadan, which begins April 23 and ends approximately May 23. Nurmagomedov has historically not competed or trained over that time, as the holiday requires fasting from sunrise to sunset, and continuing to train would increase his injury risk. Look for Nurmagomedov to ramp things back up after that, which would position him for a late-2020 title defense. Whether or not that would be against Ferguson remains to be seen.