Khabib Nurmagomedov made his latest case to being called the greatest mixed martial artist ever on Saturday. Then he stunned the world.
Nurmagomedov defended his UFC lightweight championship in the main event at UFC 254, using his world-class ground game to take down challenger Justin Gaethje and finish him with a triangle choke at 1 minute, 34 seconds of Round 2.
But during his postfight interview after moving to 29-0, Nurmagomedov announced his retirement, saying he didn't want to fight anymore without his father in his corner. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov died in July from heart complications made worse by the coronavirus.
"Amazing accomplishment," Georges St-Pierre told ESPN's Ariel Helwani, regarding Nurmagomedov retiring undefeated. "There's many guys that could claim to be the greatest of all time, and for sure Khabib is one of them."
There was speculation Nurmagomedov would try to fight GSP and retire 30-0.
"I want him to go with his family in peace and have the peace of mind, not thinking about fighting," St-Pierre said. "Just relax, enjoy your retirement. If one day, you want to come back and do it, our managers will talk.
"What a legacy. What a model in the sport. Just unbelievable. I'm very happy as a fan of Khabib to see the way he finished his career. Of course, as a competitor, maybe I would have liked to have had an agreement to make a fight with him, to organize it for us as fighters and also for the fans. But as a human being, I'm very, very happy for him. What a great career, what a great way to finish a career and leave a perfect legacy to the world of sport."
Nurmagomedov's fellow UFC fighters and celebrities took to social media immediately after Saturday's main event to praise him, with several calling him the best fighter, pound for pound, in the world.
Good performance @TeamKhabib.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 24, 2020
I will carry on.
Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family.
Yours sincerely, The McGregors.
Until I take that heavily crown, I grant you the spot. 🤙🏾 Enjoy Champ— BONY (@JonnyBones) October 24, 2020
Congratulations to the greatest champion in @ufc history. What a career, we are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with you my brother. 29-0 undefeated and undisputed. #weareaka #eaglesmma #fathersplan #heissoproud @TeamKhabib pic.twitter.com/uXjiT34JuV— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 24, 2020
Damn Khabib retired— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) October 24, 2020
Congratulations on an outstanding performance @TeamKhabib and an absolutely flawless career!!! You deserve all of the accolades bestowed upon you. You are incredible and I want to thank you for how you competed and the way you represented the sport of MMA— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) October 24, 2020
I very much have mixed feelings to see a great like @TeamKhabib retire like that! My selfish side always wants to see what else can be learned from a martial artists at his level of technique and endurance.— Dominick Cruz (@DominickCruz) October 24, 2020
#DominickCruz#DomCruz #TeamCruz #CruzMMASeries #CruzControl #UFC254
🤲🏼 To my brother and your family 🤲🏼 Enjoy retirement and your time with your family brother @khabib_nurmagomedov ♥️🙏🏽 @ Machatschkala, Dagestan, Russia https://t.co/30ri2OeUwE— Josh Thomson (@THEREALPUNK) October 24, 2020
Congrats to @khabib_nurmagomedov on a legendary career!! https://t.co/ZqrJTZhhYa— Chris Weidman (@chrisweidman) October 24, 2020
It's been a pleasure watching you @TeamKhabib beautiful, dominant performance 🙏🏼 enjoy retirement!— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) October 24, 2020
The best to ever do it @TeamKhabib— Cody Garbrandt (@Cody_Nolove) October 24, 2020
He's definitely #1 pound for pound!! Congratulations on a great career #UFC254— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) October 24, 2020
Wow! Much respect to you 🙏🙏🙏. Good luck, God bless @TeamKhabib— Dominick Reyes (@DomReyes) October 24, 2020
Getting emotional watching this. Wow. Khabib respecting his mother and following through with his word. What a man. Deffo a top 5 goat of MMA. Happy retirement. pic.twitter.com/dkqOlcS3OR— D (@darrentill2) October 24, 2020
Wow incredible story and career @TeamKhabib . You are something special my man 👊🏻👊🏻👊🏻— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) October 24, 2020
One of the most humble guys I know and most sportive @TeamKhabib Earned his spot in greatness. Made his country and brothers proud and most of all his father. God Bless you brother. Wish you the best in what life has to offer you more. #UFC254 #khabibnurmagomedov #khabib— Gökhan Saki (@gokhantherebel) October 24, 2020