Khabib Nurmagomedov’s path to the Octagon at UFC 254 was more emotional than usual, knowing that he would retire from the sport. Summarize his final trip to and from the cage on his last night as a UFC fighter.
Nurmagomedov, flanked by his team, including American Kickboxing Academy’s coach Javier Mendez, entered the temporary building of the Flash Forum, which served as the UFC’s “Fight Island” arena, and made his way to the prep point for the final fight his UFC background.
As he walked, he knew he would step into the octagon for the last time in his career as he prepared to keep the promise he made to his mother after the tragic death of his father and coach Abdulmanap in July.
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The walk also followed a behind-the-scenes riot. Reports showed he had suffered from the mumps in the weeks leading up to the fight. He broke two toes and a bone in his foot three weeks before the event.
Even so, he remained determined to make it into the cage one more time as he did an excellent job of subduing interim champion Justin Gaethje and reuniting the UFC lightweight title.
It took his record to 29-0 (13-0 in the UFC) and meant that when he put his gloves in the octagon in the traditional gesture of retirement, he did so as an undefeated champion when he kept his promise to his Mother and announced his retirement from the sport.