Khabib Nurmagomedov knows very few fighters get to walk away on top.
Across all combat sports, the list of athletes who have retired while holding a major championship much less calling it a career while undefeated is razor thin. Following a second-round submission against Justin Gaethje in the UFC 254 main event, Nurmagomedov announced his retirement with a perfect 29-0 record while still reigning as the undisputed lightweight champion of the world.
The only thing left that Nurmagomedov wanted to accomplish was to take over as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. That wish was granted on Tuesday when the UFC released its new rankings with the undefeated Russian sitting at the top after knocking Jon Jones out of his previously held spot.
It doesn’t get much better than that and it’s a fact not lost on Nurmagomedov after hearing so many cries that he should continue fighting.
“Everyone reacts differently. Of course Dana [White] wants me to continue fighting and generate revenue,” Nurmagomedov said after arriving home in Russia (translation via RT Sport). “I can make money myself. I’m at the peak of my career but I made this decision and I think this is the best time for me to make it.
“Not everyone can retire at their peak but I know that in a year, two or five, I’d have to face that decision again. I did enough in the sport to be considered the best.”
After submitting Gaethje this past Saturday night, Nurmagomedov made the plea to be considered as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
Through 13 fights in the UFC, Nurmagomedov never tasted defeat and only lost two rounds during his entire career with the promotion. His past three fights alone saw Nurmagomedov tap out Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier before putting Gaethje to sleep in his final appearance.
Now that he’s secured that coveted ranking in the pound-for-pound list, Nurmagomedov has done enough to feel fulfilled with his career and there’s no need to fight again.
“Today I was ranked the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter so the mission is accomplished,” Nurmagomedov said. “What else is there to do? Make money? I’ll always be able to do that.”