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Morning Report: In the wake of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement, Michael Chandler calls for bout with Justin Gaethje

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Michael Chandler Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This weekend, at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Justin Gaethje with a triangle choke to retain his lightweight title. Following the victory, Nurmagomedov then announced his retirement from the sport, citing the death of his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov earlier this year due to complications from COVID-19. The announcement came as a surprise as rumors had been constant that Khabib would fight one more time before hanging up his gloves, but in his post-fight speech, Nurmagomedov revealed he had made a promise to his mother to only fight this one last time. Khabib’s announcement came as a surprise to most, including former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler who was sitting cageside for the bout.

“The main event did not go how I thought it was gonna go and we now have Khabib retiring at 29-0,” Chandler told The Schmo after the fight. “We all thought he was gonna hang on until 30-0. Kinda threw us all for a loop so we’ll see what happens. . .

“When Khabib did retire, you could kinda tell (UFC President Dana White) didn’t have any idea and I think nobody had any idea. I didn’t either, but if you really think about what Khabib has gone through, you didn’t just lose your dad, your coach, your mentor, your hero, the being that you look up to here on Earth. He lost everything in that man when he lost his father a couple months ago. The pressure, the weight that he must have felt, as Dana said, we were very lucky to watch him compete one more time tonight, let alone ever again.

“I think the consensus was all of us thought he would fight this fight and one more fight but when he made a vow, he said my word is my word and he put it away, and put his gloves in the middle of the octagon. I think Dana was just as surprised as everyone else but I know it puts me in a really nice, interesting situation coming right into the organization and we have a vacant lightweight title.”

While the lightweight title is not technically vacant yet, it does appear to be headed that direction soon, which opens up a number of possibilities for all the top contenders in the division. That includes Chandler who recently signed with the UFC and served as the backup for UFC 254’s lightweight title bout. It was a big statement from the UFC with regards to how they view Chandler and in the wake of a suddenly open division, means Chandler’s first UFC fight could have huge implications. And though there are a lot of options that could make sense for that first bout, Chandler has his sights set on one man in particular: the guy Khabib just demolished.

“There’s a lot of different options right now,” Chandler said. “I think with the way the landscape looked - you had Gaethje and Khabib with Khabib as the lightweight champion after tonight - I was thinking Tony Ferguson. But now you’ve got Jon Anik and Justin Gaethje talking after the fight. Gaethje is a gamer. Justin Gaethje is one of the greatest competitors that we will ever get to see grace the octagon . . . (and) he said he’s ready in six to eight weeks, he’s ready to fight again. He didn’t take that much damage in this fight which is great. I’m ready in six to eight weeks, he’s ready in six to eight weeks, there’s a Tony Ferguson fight, there is The Ultimate Fighter coming up, I know that’s gonna be a big debut for ESPN. Culminating in a lightweight title shot seems like nonstop action for ESPN so I would love to be a part of that as well. So we’ll see what happens.”

After his loss, Gaethje did state a willingness to get back into the cage soon, noting that he took very little damage in his submission loss. Gaethje threw out the idea of a possible fight with Conor McGregor for the vacant title, however, McGregor and Dustin Poirier seem to be headed towards a rematch with one another early next year, meaning a fight with Chandler could be the next best option. Chandler certainly hopes so, saying that of all the fights he could get, Gaethje would be his top choice by far, even over the proposed fight with Tony Ferguson.

“At this point, with the way everything changed tonight, I think a fight with Justin Gaethje has always excited me more than anybody in the entire division,” Chandler concluded. “More than Conor or Khabib, even though the mystique of beating Khabib and taking his 0 is something special, or fighting Conor on the highest grossing card of the year and making the most money, the red panty night as he likes to call it. Those are all wonderful but when it comes to just straight competitor versus competitor, hand to hand combat, mano a mano, small-town blue-collar American wrestler versus small-town American blue-collar wrestler, that’s me and Justin Gaethje stepping into the cage against each other, so that’s exciting to me.”


Farewell. Khabib Nurmagomedov announces his retirement following emotional victory over Justin Gaethje in UFC 254 main event.

Reactions. Conor McGregor, Jon Jones and more react to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s sudden retirement at UFC 254.

Champ. Khabib Nurmagomedov’s head coach reveals injuries, sickness star faced during UFC 254 training camp.

GOAT. After UFC 254, Daniel Cormier declares Khabib Nurmagomedov ‘the greatest fighter we’ve ever seen’.

Big mad. Jon Jones scoffs at Khabib Nurmagomedov taking over as pound-for-pound best, much less becoming the GOAT.

Next. Justin Gaethje: If Conor McGregor wants to ‘bounce out and get the belt,’ I’m here.


UFC 254 Post-Fight Show.

UFC 254 Post-Fight Press Conference.

UFC’s tribute to Abdulmanap.

Khabib’s post-fight speech is really touching.

Fighters predict Thiago Santos vs. Glover Texeireira.


6th Round. Immediate post-fight reaction to UFC 254 and Khabib’s retirement.

Severe MMA. Discussing UFC 254, Khabib’s retirement, and Bellator.


One of the greatest of all time.

The champ.


DC making his stance known.

Can you imagine how bad Khabib would beat Nate?

Fishing for a fight.

BJJ guys are hilarious. As if the triangle choke isn’t a judo move in the first place.


Chase Hooper (9-1-1) vs. Peter Barrett (11-4); UFC 256, Dec. 12.

Tyson Nam (20-11-1) vs. Matt Schnell (14-5); UFC Fight Night, Dec. 19.


Whether or not you think Khabib is the GOAT, you can’t deny he’s in the conversation now. What a singular athlete. Good for him to walk away but I’m legitimately sad we’ll never see him fight again.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow!



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