Khabib Nurmagomedov retired undefeated. At 32, the Dagestani UFC lightweight titleholder had just beaten Justin Gaethje in a match on UFC's Fight Island on October 24, 2020 when he made his announcement:
"Today, this was my last fight," said Nurmagomedov, "Ain't no way I'm going to come here without my father.
The fighter's father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, died in early 2020 from COVID-19-related complications.
Following his victory, the 32-year-old was visibly emotional, making it obvious this was no regular match for him.
Nurmagomedov explained his situation further in an interview following the match, reports CNN:
Nurmagomedov said he talked with his mother for three days before deciding to accept the fight with Gaethje.
"She don't (want me) to go fight without father, but I promised her it's going to be my last fight," he said in a post-match interview. "And if I give my word, I have to follow this."
The 32-year-old Russian fighter said it was his first time fighting without his father.
Dana White was quick with kudos, calling Khabib Nurmagomedov "one of the toughest human beings on the planet."
"He's the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world," White said, "and, seriously, you have to start putting him up there at GOAT status."
Khabib Nurmagomedov posted a photo of himself and his dad on Instagram after the fight. A devout Muslim, it was clear his thoughts were entirely about his late father and about faith.
"When ALLAH with you, nobody can broke you, nobody," he said in this caption,
"Thanks Father for everything, you teach all my life, may ALLAH grant you the highest Paradise."
Nurmagomedov retires number 1 in men's UFC pound-for-pound rankings, undefeated at 29-0, with 8 knockouts, 11 submissions and 10 decision wins.
And that's how you go out on top.