The retirement of any great athlete in almost any sport signifies a bittersweet ending, the bitter pain of bidding adieu with the sweet bliss of gratitude towards an era of sporting brilliance.
Well in the world of mixed martial arts, it’s an exasperated sigh followed by a “alright so when’s the return?”
This also seems to apply to the undefeated lightweight phenom, Khabib “the Eagle” Nurmagomedov. Khabib’s historic and emotional retirement as an undefeated 29-0 champion didn’t do all too well in escaping the suspicions of temporariness, not by the fans, not by MMA media in general, heck not even the UFC and UFC president Dana White.
Dana truly believes that Khabib must go for the coveted and anticipated perfect 30-0 record, believing Khabib’s career to be far from over. And while it is unrealistic to expect Nurmagomedov to carry on after a 30-0 win, it is definitely believable that he may come back for just one more.
Sources close to the champ insist on the destabilization of Khabib’s mental state after the loss of his father, the vow he has made to his mother, indeed even the Eagle’s close friend and training partner, Daniel Cormier truly believes Khabib to be a man of his word and does not expect him to return. However, the lack of vacation of his lightweight belt, the meeting White has planned with the champion this week, and the UFC’s insistence that the winner of Mcgregor-Poirer 2 later this month gets the title shot all indicate that the champ may have enough left in the tank for one more fight. Let’s take a closer look at how the much-anticipated meeting on fight island might go and Khabib’s options in the future.
Alas, as painful as it may be for the fans and the lovers of the sport to admit, the absolute grappling beast may just hang up his gloves for good. After all the tragedy that has struck the Nurmagomedov family in 2020 is truly heartbreaking and pulling the brakes doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable option. While financially secure already, Khabib also plans to launch his own mobile operating company soon along with his own MMA promotion too- all indicators of a secure, holistic retirement plan. With all this in mind, the possibility that Dana’s meeting may not yield anything except anticipation is very real and it just may be a matter of time before Khabib vacates his belt
The speculations of a mega match up between George St. Pierre and the Eagle seem to be existent for years now, it seems. However, the unfortunate truth remains that this fight becomes more unrealistic with each passing day, as 39-year-old George moves further away from his prime and is simply incapable of making it to the 155 pounds weight limit. Similarly, khabib refuses to make 170 and the possibility of Dana white agreeing to a new 165-pound division/ catch weight are just about as slim. As a result, this fight seems to be impossible, indeed possibly the most improbable possibility on this list, as legendary as it may be if they did manage to make it happen
- LIGHTWEIGHT CONTENDERS
Last but certainly not the least we turn to the place this all started, the fiercely competitive and talent rich lightweight division. The two most obvious contenders that seem to be on the road for a title shot at this point are Charles Oliveira and whoever wins the Mcgregor-Poirer 2 clash at UFC 257 on the 23rd of January.
Oliveira comes off an incredibly dominant victory over Tony Ferguson, another lightweight who was considered to be the man to dethrone Khabib nearly a year ago. Tony’s chances at obtaining a title shot coming off two losses are almost 0, especially when his previous loss was a one-sided grappling-beatdown by the aforementioned Oliveira who’s now primed for a title shot.
While contenders Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler facing off as the co-main event of the Mcgregor-Poirer Card are undoubtedly in the conversation, the chances of them getting a title shot are quite less too, considering Hooker’s coming off a loss to Poirer and Chandler is yet to prove himself in the division.
Truth be told, the above-mentioned speculations are in fact only a part of the basis on which Khabib’s career may take a turn. Khabib and his manager, Ali Abdelaziz have stated and put forth exceptionally high financial demands for a Mcgregor rematch, putting forth a demand for a 100-million-dollar paycheck, while speaking at a press conference promoting his new MMA promotion, Eagle Fighting Championship.
Indeed, it is fair to assume he would demand exceptionally high sums of money for other match ups as well. Only time will tell, and if the UFC is willing to negotiate on these terms.