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Khabib will be back for one last fight: UFC boss

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com Filed on October 30, 2020
Dana White hopes Khabib Nurmagomedov will be back in the octagon to fulfil his late father’s wish to go 30-0 and then quit the sport. — Supplied photo

White feels Khabib’s decision was an emotional one

UFC president Dana White thinks undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will be back in the octagon to fulfil his late father’s wish to go 30-0 and then quit the sport.

Khabib, the Russian ‘Eagle’, stunned the MMA community by announcing his retirement from the sport after submitting No.1 challenger Justin Gaethje in the lightweight title unification bout at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island on Sunday.

After the 29-0 result, Khabib said he will never return to the cage without his late father and mentor Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who passed away in July. The 32-year-old Dagestani added that he promised his mother that the clash against Gaethje would be his last fight.

White feels Khabib’s decision was an emotional one and the Russian icon will surely honour his father’s plan to finish the career on a 30-0 record.

And White is convincing Khabib to rethink the retirement plan.

“Khabib and I have been talking,” White told CBS Sports. “He was completely emotional that night when he got through that fight. I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0. I think that he’s not going to retire.”

Khabib after deploying a triangle choke submission move to make Gaethje tap out, stood up, looked at his corner and dropped onto his knees crying for minutes. The UFC president said the retirement call seemed a quick decision and “nobody was aware” about it.

“His dad wanted him to get to 30-0 and I think he wants to honour his dad’s wish,” White added.

Post the UFC254 showdown, Khabib has been officially made the UFC’s No.1 in pound-for-pound fighter. Interestingly, he continues to feature on the UFC’s official website as the lightweight champion.

In the pre-fight press conference, Khabib’s coach Javier Mendez had hinted at possible opponent for the final fight – MMA legend George St-Pierre.

“After this I hope we get his father’s wish and that was GSP (George St-Pierre). If we can’t get GSP I hope we get something huge. I’m hoping the winner of Dustin Poirer and Conor McGregor, if they fight at 155 pounds, then maybe we get the winner of that, or maybe Tony Ferguson comes back and gets his shot. I’d love to see it in Abu Dhabi. It’s the best place for me.”

Mendez had later expressed his shock at Khabib’s decision to retire.

Moreover, White had revealed plans of a ‘special’ No.30 fight for Khabib.

“Yes (there is a fight), but I have not told him (Khabib) that.”

So, fans in Abu Dhabi can still look up to Khabib’s final hurrah being celebrated at Etihad Arena next year.



Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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