Retired UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov has spoken on his decision to walk away from the octagon, which was finally accepted by the promotion’s president Dana White before the weekend.
During coverage that followed the UFC Vegas 22 card on Saturday night, the Russian grappler said: “It’s very hard when you have power, when you’re the best in the world, when you’re famous, when you have money, [to say no to these things].
“This is very hard. People are maybe never gonna understand me, but I really hope they’re gonna support my decision.”
The former 155lbs champion also told an anecdote involving his late father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov and the famous footage of Khabib wrestling a bear as a youngster.
Abdulmanap’s untimely death from complications stemming from a coronavirus infection last year was key in Khabib making a promise to his mother to turn his back on a perfect 29-0 career after UFC 254 last October.
“When [my] father put me wrestling with [a] bear, when I told him, ‘Hey this bear tried to bite me.’ I remember when he told me, ‘Bite him back. No problem. You have to wrestle. You have to keep going,'” Khabib said.
Sitting next to White cageside at the UFC Apex, Khabib was even asked for some wrestling advice of his own by middleweight star Kevin Holland, who was defeated in the main event by Derrick Brunson via a unanimous decision.
Taking a selfie of himself and the UFC supremo before the first buzzer, Khabib creased up fans and pundits by streaming the entire bout live on Instagram despite White having recently promised a crackdown on pay-per-view pirates.
“As far as illegal streamers go Khabib is the GOAT,” remarked MMA reporter Chamatkar Sandhu.
Handing out four $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses to Max Griffin, Adrian Yanez, Grant Dawson and Bruno Gustavo da Silva, White was clearly in a generous mood last night.
But he might regret this now that Khabib has possibly cost him a pretty penny too.