Arguably the best UFC fighter ever was successful in his title defense, beating Justin Gaethje tonight in Abu Dhabi. The Russian retained the title with a triangle choke submission after 1:34 into the second round.
Khabib not only kept his title, but remained perfect with 29 straight wins without a single loss in his career. Following the fight, Nurmagomedov announced his retirement, saying that he promised his mother that he wouldn’t fight without his father. The champ took the gloves off, saying that he won’t be fighting anymore.
.@TeamKhabib's triangle choke submission was just the third time we've seen a UFC title fight end with that technique. It joins Anderson Silva's triangle of Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 (MW title) and Tony Ferguson's triangle of Kevin Lee at UFC 216 (interim LW title). #UFC254 pic.twitter.com/jYBBAU8hvN
— UFC News (@UFCNews) October 24, 2020
“I talked with my mother, she didn’t want me to fight without father, but I promised her it’s gonna be my last fight and if I give my word, I have to follow this.”
Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap, died earlier this year due to COVID-19 infection complications, and ever since, Nurmagomedov has been in grief. Some suggested that he wouldn’t continue fighting, while others assumed that the champ would try to reach a 30-0 record, which was his and his father’s wish, before retiring.
Regarding the fight, we saw a very interesting battle, in which Gaethje had his moments, striking the champ who wouldn’t respond to those hits very well.
The Highlight was trying to keep the distance between him and Khabib with strong low-kicks, managing to do the same until the end of the first round. That was when the champion finally took down the challenger, attacking his arm, but the bell saved Gaethje.
A similar situation happened early in the second, with Khabib pressuring Gaethje, taking him down, and establishing a triangle choke, inflicting the rival his third loss in career.
— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) October 24, 2020
Nurmagomedov was very emotional after the match, kneeling in the middle of the ring and once again showing his grief for his late father. Gaethje tried to console his big rival, but that wouldn’t impact Khabib’s feelings.
The UFC lightweight division will lose its champion, and the fighters who are now in the middle of attention are Gaethje and Conor McGregor. The latter has a match against Dustin Poirier scheduled for January, and it is quite possible to see the winner of that one facing Gaethje for the title.