Khabib Nurmagomedov’s walk to the octagon at UFC 254 was emotional than usual, as he did so knowing that he was going to retire from the sport. Recap his final journey to and from the cage on his last night as a UFC fighter.
Nurmagomedov, flanked by his team, including coach Javier Mendez from American Kickboxing Academy, made his way into the temporary Flash Forum building that served as the UFC’s “Fight Island” arena and made his way to the prep point for the final fight of his UFC career.
As he did so, he walked knowing that he was set to step into the octagon for the final time in his career as he prepared to make good the promise he made his mother following the tragic death of his father and coach, Abdulmanap, in July.
The walk was also one that followed a build-up of behind-the-scenes turmoil, with reports revealing that he had suffered from the mumps during the weeks leading up to the fight. He also broke two toes and a bone in his foot three weeks before the event.
Nonetheless, he remained steadfast in his determination to make it to the cage one more time as he produced a superb performance to submit interim champion Justin Gaethje and re-unify the UFC lightweight title.
It took his record to 29-0 (13-0 in the UFC) and meant that, as he laid down his gloves in the octagon in the traditional gesture of retirement, he did so as an undefeated champion, as he delivered on his promise to his mother and announced his retirement from the sport.