Khabib Nurmagomedov could reverse his decision to retire, reveals his coach – with the UFC pound-for-pound king making an ’emotional decision’ that he may turn back on
- Khabib Nurmagomedov retired immediately after beating Justin Gaethje
- Russian had promised his mother he would not fight against without late father
- Pound-for-pound No 1 made ’emotional’ decision, admits coach Javier Mendez
- Mendez said: ‘He was extremely emotional and time will tell if it will stick or not’
Khabib Nurmagomedov made an ‘extremely emotional’ decision to retire and may yet return to the UFC, revealed his head coach Javier Mendez.
The Russian retired undefeated following his UFC 254 win over Justin Gaethje having promised his mother he would no longer fight on without late father Abdulmanap by his side.
Abdulmanap’s death following complications from coronavirus earlier this has had a seismic impact on Khabib and all of those emotions poured out of the champion in Abu Dhabi.
Khabib Nurmagomedov made an ‘extremely emotional’ decision in retiring, says his coach
Javier Mendez (left) was taken by surprise when Khabib announced his shock decision
He was in tears in the octagon and during his post-fight interview when he declared his intention to hang up the gloves and call time on his career aged just 32.
Mendez told the Sun: ‘Look at his emotions, he was in tears, he was all over the place. I know he said what he said, but he was extremely emotional and time will tell if it will stick or not.
‘Honestly, I don’t know and I’m not going to talk to him about it either, not my job. My job is to love him and coach him when he wants to fight.’
The American Kickboxing Academy coach went on: ‘ If his mother sees that he can continue and that Khabib did actually want to continue then she may so go and fulfil your father’s legacy and go 30-0…
The emotions came pouring out of the champion and he was consoled by Justin Gaethje
Khabib said he had promised his mother he would not fight again after the UFC 254 main event
‘I don’t know, but when I was present he’d always say, “Why do you guys talk about retirement, I’m only 32.”
‘So how is it that all of a sudden you’re retired? What else can explain why? His emotions.’
Mendez was with Khabib for his training camp, during which he suffered from mumps, a broken toe and broken bone in his foot. He cornered the Dagestani on Saturday night and was taken aback by the decision to retire.
Khabib won by second-round triangle choke and banked a record purse of £4.6m, plus performance bonuses and a share of the pay-per-view takings.
He was subsequently moved up to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings, usurping Jon Jones in top spot, a move the former light-heavyweight champion took issue with as ‘No 1 bull****’.
Khabib is 29-0 and still young at 32-years-old so could yet make a comeback in the sport
Having trained his entire life and become consumed by MMA, it would be a surprise to never see Khabib in the octagon again and a number of fighters, including Conor McGregor and Georges St-Pierre have previously reversed their decisions to leave the sport.
But the intensity and conviction with which the 29-0 star revealed his retirement seemed genuine, even if it was emotionally charged.
A superfight with GSP to take his record to 30-0 had long been spoken about as a dream and the Canadian is willing to step up but only time will tell if the UFC’s best pound-for-pound fighter has really left MMA behind for good.