UFC's Dana White Says Khabib Is Officially Retired: 'Thank You for Everything'

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2021

Khabib Nurmagomedov holds up a belt during a news conference for the UFC 229 mixed martial arts bouts Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Las Vegas. Nurmagomedov is scheduled to fight Conor McGregor on Saturday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Khabib Nurmagomedov will stay retired despite speculation he will return to the Octagon.

UFC President Dana White announced Khabib's decision on Twitter Thursday:

danawhite @danawhite

29-0 it is. He is 💯 officially retired. It was incredible to watch you work @TeamKhabib thank you for EVERYTHING and enjoy whatever is next my friend. https://t.co/QeoSP12zw2

White also told ESPN's Brett Okamoto that Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira will now square off for the lightweight title at UFC 262 on May 15. 

The 32-year-old had initially announced his retirement at UFC 254 in October 2020:

UFC @ufc

"Today is my last fight here in UFC." #UFC254 https://t.co/sq6R9LxN1i

He stepped away from the sport after defeating Justin Gaethje by submission, his third straight defense of the lightweight title after also stopping both Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. He initially won the belt by defeating Al Iaquinta in 2018 and never slowed down, eventually becoming the top pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC rankings.

"I have achieved almost everything in this sport, and there isn't someone I would like to fight now," Nurmagomedov told Sport24 with regard to his retirement.

His father and trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, also died three months before his son's retirement because of complications related to COVID-19.

There was little indication Khabib would return to MMA, especially after McGregor was upset by Poirier at UFC 257.

"I did talk to Khabib. And he said to me, 'Dana, be honest with yourself. I'm so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys,'" White told reporters after UFC 257. "I don't know. But it doesn't sound very positive. We'll see."

White hasn't been able to convince the champion to come back, though, and the lightweight division will have to move on with a new champion.

With a 29-0 record, Nurmagomedov will go down as one of the top fighters in UFC history.