Defeated Gaethje tells Khabib: You've made your dad really proud
The No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. The greatest of all time (G.O.A.T).
The tributes poured in as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his shock retirement from mixed martial arts (MMA) yesterday morning (Singapore time), after revealing he "promised his mother" that his clash with Justin Gaethje would be his last fight.
The Russian, who won by a second-round technical knockout, was fighting for the first time since the death of his father and coach Abdulmanap in July.
"I'm the UFC undisputed, undefeated champion with a 13-0 record, and 29-0 in all of my pro MMA career," he said after his win in Abu Dhabi.
"Today, I want to say this is my last fight. No way am I coming here without my father...
"(My mother) didn't want me to fight without father and I said this is my last fight - and I have given her my word.
He added: "Thank you so much, Justin. I know you are great, I know how you take care of your people. Be close with your parents, because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow.
"Thank you coach, thank you guys. Today is my last fight in the UFC."
Abdulmanap, 57, died after suffering complications from Covid-19.
Long-time rival Conor McGregor of Ireland, who lost to Nurmagomedov in 2018, was among the first to congratulate the 32-year-old.
"I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors," he tweeted.
UFC president Dana White revealed that Nurmagomedov had broken his foot in the build-up to the event.
"He is one of the toughest human beings on the planet and he's the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and, seriously, you have to start putting him up there with G.O.A.T status with whoever else you think is the G.O.A.T," he said.
The greatest tribute, though, probably came from Gaethje, who went over to console an emotional Nurmagomedov after being choked out by him.
"I said, 'I haven't had a chance to tell you I'm so sorry for your loss. You just made your father really proud'," the 31-year-old American told BT Sport. - AFP