Khabib Nurmagomedov made it very clear at the start of 2023 that he was leaving the sport of MMA for good. It seems like not everyone has gotten the message.
“The Eagle” retired from fighting with a perfect 29-0 record after an October 2020 win over Justin Gaethje. He continued to coach and corner his extensive team of Dagestani killers after that, but too much travel and time away from his family took its toll. Just after New Years Day, word came out that Nurmagomedov was stepping away from the sport entirely.
He did a good job of staying out of the sports spotlight, too … until he re-emerged to help Islam Makhachev prepare for his UFC 294 title defense against Alexander Volkanovski. Khabib gave his team two weeks of coaching time before disappearing once again. He didn’t even show up at Etihad Arena, leaving many fans confused as to why he wasn’t in Makhachev’s corner.
“Best fighter in the world today,” Khabib wrote following Makhachev’s 1st round KO win over Volkanovski. “Love you Brother and congratulations.”
He then declared:
“If you guys ask me where have I been? Why wasn’t I in the corner, I already answered this question, I don’t go to fights, I don’t go to the corner and I completely left everything related to MMA. I ask you to accept my decision the same way as my brothers, friends and sparring partners did.”
“What our team achieved will forever be in the history of MMA,” he added.
It sounds like Nurmagomedov is getting fed up having to explain the situation over and over again. It’s been nearly an entire year since he completely withdrew from the MMA world, but no one is taking his decision seriously. Kind of like after he initially retired.
At least Islam Makhachev understands.
“We have a very big team,” Makhachev explained when asked why Khabib wasn’t in Abu Dhabi. “What if Khabib is there for one of us? We’re all equal. No matter if somebody’s a champion and the other guy is still on his way up, we all support each other. If he is there for my fight, he will need to be there for every single one from our team to not let anyone feel abandoned.”
That’s so wholesome you gotta respect it.