Khabib Nurmagomedov turns down another opportunity to return to action, with UFC president Dana White admitting he doesn’t think the unbeaten former champion ‘will ever come back’
After holding the UFC Lightweight championship title for more than three years, Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from competing in March 2021, just months after putting Justin Gaethje to sleep via triangle choke on UFC 254 in October 2020. This left Khabib with an undefeated record of 29-0, with eight of his victories having come via knockout/TKO, 11 via submission, and 10 via decision.
However, UFC president Dana White has been culminating ideas to get him back fighting since he left the octagon. His most recent offer? A grappling match. ‘The Eagle’ declined White’s offer and is sticking to retirement and focusing on training others to become world champions like himself.
Khabib displayed a sensational performance against Justin Gaethje on UFC 254, not only did he get the submission and the win but he also put Gaethje to sleep and Nurmagomedov earned himself Performance of the Night bonus whilst retaining his championship status.
Dana White: “I don’t think Khabib ever comes back”
White has made multiple attempts to persuade Nurmagomedov to end his retirement, including by promising him a rematch with McGregor, a coaching position on The Ultimate Fighter, and a fight against Tony Ferguson.
When speaking on CBS Sports Radio’s ‘The Jim Rome Show’ earlier this month, White was asked about Khabib’s potential return to which the UFC president responded:
“No, Khabib is retired. It’s funny that you asked or it’s weird that you asked me that question actually. I just reached out to him recently to see if he’s interested in something and he was like, ‘I’m retired, brother. I’m done.’ I don’t think Khabib ever comes back… It was something different, I was trying to get him to do a grappling match. He’s like ‘I’m done, I’m retired.’ I think that when his father passed away, that was a wrap for him, and he’s just focused on training other guys and helping them become world champions.”
Nurmagomedov is still just 33-years-old and has retired without fighting a large portion of the division’s top contenders such as Oliveira, Ferguson, and Chandler, so he is still young enough to get back at it if he wanted to. Recently, fellow MMA legend Georges St-Pierre announced that he would be open to a grappling match against Khabib, but that window seems to be closed.
Nurmagomedov’s retirement came after the passing of his father and coach Abdulmanap. Khabib’s father Abdulmanap died from Covid-related complications in July 2020, three months before his son retired from mixed martial arts, and in his post fight interview following his victory over Gaethje, the UFC Lightweight Champion explained that a plea from his mother had prompted his decision to step away from fighting MMA.
In his post-fight interview, Khabib explained:
“There’s no way I’m going to be back without my father. When UFC called me about Justin (Gaethje), I spoke with my mother for three days. She doesn’t know how I fight without father, but I promised it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow it.”
Since retiring, Khabib has focused his sights on coaching and starting his own MMA promotion, Eagle FC, who he has already signed former UFC veterans Junior Dos Santos and Kevin Lee to its roster. He currently has three cousins fighting professional MMA as well as his close friend Islam Makhachev who is a top UFC lightweight contender who will be fighting for the title in October at UFC 280.