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UFC Legend Khabib Nurmagomedov Retires as MMA Coach to Focus on His Family

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 30: Khabib Nurmagomedov speaks during the UFC Hall of Fame induction ceremony at T-Mobile Arena on June 30, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Having already retired from fighting, Khabib Nurmagomedov is making a clean break from mixed martial arts altogether.

The former UFC lightweight champion announced Friday on Instagram that he's leaving his coaching role to be with his family.

Javier Mendez, who trained Khabib and coached alongside him at American Kickboxing Academy, provided more insight to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole.

"He just doesn't want to miss being a father," Mendez said. "He talked to me about three weeks ago and told me of his plan and said he planned to talk to the team and inform them of his decision. He's doing this for the right reasons. He's a family man and he simply wants to spend more time with his family."

Nurmagomedov left the sport at the top of his game. He earned a submission victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October 2020, which ran his record to a perfect 29-0. It was also his third straight successful title defense of the lightweight crown.

The 34-year-old was one of the UFC's best pound-for-pound fighters during his run, and Mendez thought his former pupil could reach similar heights as a coach.

He said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (via MMA Junkie's Farah Hannoun) in October that Khabib was already making a major impression.

"He's learned from me, he's learned from his father—mostly his father," he said. "But to me, he's on track—in my opinion because of his age, what he's doing, the camp I see, the fighters he has—he's on track to being the greatest coach of all time, in my opinion. I see it. I see the writing on the wall."

Islam Makhachev is the most notable star to work under Nurmagomedov. Makhachev became the lightweight champion when he submitted Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 last October. He's set to put the gold on the line against Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 on Feb. 11.

Mendez told Iole it's unclear whether Nurmagomedov's retirement goes into immediate effect or if he'll stay long enough to remain in Makhachev's corner for one more fight.