Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says his decision to retire from MMA felt like he had released himself from prison.
Khabib retired from the sport after successfully defending his title against Justin Gaethje by second-round submission at UFC 254 last October. His retirement wasn’t officially acknowledged by the UFC until February, however. In fact, Dana White is still hoping that ‘The Eagle’ will change his mind in the future.
Out Of ‘Prison’
Speaking to UFC Russia (as translated by MMA Fighting), Khabib said that he’s happy to be living the life of an ordinary person.
“I am living the life of an ordinary person, not the one of a professional athlete,” Khabib said. “I think living the life of an athlete is somewhat close to being held in a prison. Because everyday he has to do exactly the same thing — train, rest, then train again, then rest. It’s like living in the same mode, at the same pace, not slowing down. Once you slow down, you are no longer a champion. So I have just released myself from this prison in a way.”
Missing The Fight Game
While Khabib has no regrets about his decision to retire in his prime, he admitted that he does miss ‘kicking ass’ inside the Octagon.
“Well, I miss almost everything if I can say so,” Khabib said. “There are so many moments when I feel lack of competition or it’s spirit, you know. There are many things that I miss. Simply because I spent my entire life doing them. No, there was not a single moment when I had regrets or doubts about my decision. However, I miss this competition environment itself, training camps, losing weight, etc.
“Because it’s some sort of an addiction and you can’t get rid of it, it simply exists. Sometimes you just want to enter the Octagon and kick ass, fight for five rounds straight and make it really tough. But life is life. Even if not now, then at some point in life, I’d have quit and say no to this sport anyway.”
‘Only Time Will Tell’
Khabib retired at the peak of his powers at 29-0, with his last three wins coming against top contenders, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and Gaethje. He said that only time will tell if his decision to retire in his prime was the right one.
“Only time will tell [if this was the right time to retire],” Khabib said. “It always does. Should have I or should have I not? We may endlessly speculate. Khabib had such a chance to fight with this guy or that guy but it’s a never ending talk. There will always be new contenders, new champions. Much younger, much hungrier. They were before me and they will be after me.
“So you have to keep it in mind and leave this sport when the right time comes. The wealthiest man is the self-sufficient one. If you have just the right amount of everything, you are at peace with your head and thoughts, then you are the wealthiest. Even if you don’t have all those millions, that posh life, if what you have is enough, then you will always be the wealthiest.”
Helping His Teammates
Since his humble beginnings in MMA in 2008, Khabib always dreamed of becoming the UFC champion. Surprisingly, the Dagestani said that he didn’t feel the satisfaction he should have felt after winning the title, and becoming the pound-for-pound number one.
“Well of course in our sport, it’s the highest peak — to win the belt, to become the best fighter,” Khabib said. “I reached this top and you know, I didn’t feel much satisfaction to be honest. I’m sure many people think ‘wow’ and so on but I didn’t feel [some sort of thrill]. I didn’t feel what I expected to feel. Thought I would get more satisfaction in a way but I didn’t.”
With him closing the door on fighting, the 32 year old’s primary objective now is to help his teammates achieve their goals.
“I have guys around me who started with me and they were with me from the very beginning,” Khabib said. “I would like to support them to let them achieve their goals and to become successful in the way they want. They are going down the way that I’d already been through and I can be useful and support them with a piece of advice. They know they can count on me. So this is my goal, to help them.”
Would you like to see Khabib Nurmagomedov make a comeback?