Khabib Nurmagomedov's last act as a UFC fighter was to send a classy message to UFC 254 opponent Justin Gaethje, just moments before hanging up his gloves.
The undefeated Russian announced his decision to retire from UFC just moments after winning an emotional main event on Fight Island, to confirm himself as the undisputed lightweight champion.
He shared a moment with Gaethje at the conclusion of the fight, in an emotional ending to his career as a fighter just months after his father, and trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov had passed away.
After the fight Khabib thanked the Highlight for helping him cut weight in 2016, called his opponent a great man and told Gaethje, and everyone listening, to be 'close with their parents because you never know what's going to happen.'
"Be close with your parents. You never know what will happen tomorrow."- SPORTbible (@sportbible) October 24, 2020
Khabib, who was supposed to fight Tony Ferguson earlier this year until Covid-19 stopped him leaving the country, lost his father in the summer.
Abdulmanap suffered from Coronavirus related complications following heart surgery and the Eagle revealed that his mother said he shouldn't fight without his father but he promised her it would be his last fight.
"This was my last fight. No way I can come here without my father. ... I promise it will be my last fight. If I give my word, I have to follow this."- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 24, 2020
Khabib Nurmagomedov announces retirement after defending lightweight title at #UFC254
Gaethje also revealed that their emotional conversation immediately after he had been tapped out involved him paying respect to Khabib's father.
"I haven't had the chance to tell you, but I'm so sorry for your loss."- UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 24, 2020
"You just made your father really proud!" :hearts:@Justin_Gaethje is nothing but a class act. He told @AdamCatterall what he said to Khabib after the fight :clap: pic.twitter.com/km8rHmOTlR
It was Gaethje who replaced Khabib earlier in the year to face Ferguson, and he came up with a surprise victory by stopping El Cucuy in the fifth round, earning him the interim title shot.
He was the clear underdog going into the fight but the undefeated Russian's appearance at Friday's weigh in, where he had struggled to make weight, had given some the belief that Gaethje could spring another surprise.
However Khabib proved why he is considered the most dominant champion in UFC history, and one of the true greats of the company, by tapping his opponent out early in the second round.
With Nurmagomedov retiring it does mean that the American is likely to have another chance at becoming the champion.
A rematch with Tony Ferguson could be next for him, or he could face the winner of Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier, which is due to take place in January.
Featured Image Credit: BT/UFC
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