Khabib Nurmagomedov left a lasting legacy in the Octagon after defeating Justin Gaethje to remain undefeated in the entirety of his mixed martial arts career.
The Russian superstar, who won by a second-round technical knockout, had promised to his mother that the latest fight would be his last.
He won’t be fighting anymore without his father Abdulmanap, who passed away at 57 last July due to COVID-19 complications, by his side.
UFC stars, including Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, Alex Volkanovski, Jan Blachowicz, among others, took to social media their appreciation and praise to the undisputed world lightweight champion.
“Good performance @TeamKhabib. I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors,” tweeted the Irish MMA star, who decided to take the high road and set aside bad blood.
Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao also congratulated Khabib for his recent win, adding a ‘goat’ emoji on his tweet.
Instead of celebrating after the fight, Khabib took a moment of silence and kneeled at the center of the Octagon.
After recovering from the choke, Gaethje showed great sportsmanship and consoled the grieving Khabib, who fought for the first and last time since the death of his father.
The moment drew comparison from when NBA legend Michael Jordan also wept in the locker room after winnning the 1996 NBA Finals against the Seattle Supersonics — his first title since the murder of his father James.
ESPN’s MMA writer Ariel Helwani took notice of the iconic scene, “Khabib is in the middle of the cage, crying. Very reminiscent of MJ after he won the title following his own father’s passing. No question what those emotions are about.”
Being an undefeated champion with a clean 13-0 record in the UFC and 29-0 overall, it is just fit for Nurmagomedov to retire on the highest note.