Khabib Nurmagomedov is just 30 years old, not young compared to some of the young bucks coming up in the UFC these days but certainly not old. But with his goal of winning the UFC lightweight title achieved and money now being a question of being ‘dirty rich’ or ‘filthy rich’, might the Dagestani fighter dip out on his MMA career early to enjoy his earnings and full faculties?
He’s certainly implied in the past that he won’t be one of those fighters sticking around past his prime. But he refused to give more than a general age limit when asked about retirement during a UFC 242 conference call. He’ll face Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi as part of his second title defense.
“Good question,” Nurmagomedov replied (via MMA Junkie). “Not yet, but I’m not a young fighter. I’ve already been champion for years, I’ve already defended my title. This is my second defense. Of course, I don’t have a lot of fights ahead, because I don’t want to fight when I’m 40 years old. This isn’t my plan. We’ll see.”
What is his plan? Past his ambitions to fight four times by the end of April, no one is sure. Poirier, Ferguson, McGregor, GSP, and then off into the sunset? A more relaxed schedule after he clears out the lightweight contender logjam? And what happens if he loses? Nurmagomedov didn’t expand other than to say he wouldn’t make any decisions alone.
“Before I make a decision, I have to talk with my father,” he said. “I have to talk with coach Javier [Mendez], all my brothers, Dominance MMA and all the people around me,” Nurmagomedov said. “I can’t make this decision alone. But right now, I’m focused on competition, because I have too much fire inside me.”
That fire still burns even after all the health issues Nurmagomedov has dealt with due to fighting, and after he commented on the death of fellow Russian combat sports fighter Maxim Dadashev. “Every time I see or hear such news, I begin to hate this sport in which we beat each other,” he wrote after the boxer’s death due to head trauma sustained in the ring.
It takes a certain kind of person to get into this sport, and a certain kind to stick around after your fortune is secured. So make sure to enjoy Khabib while he’s around, because he doesn’t seem to me like the kind of guy who will accept the kind of #1 bulls**t the UFC serves up to even its biggest names and champions.
Robert Louis Pangilinan is a Filipino sports columnist, reporter and photographer. He is currently employed with Policefiles and Sportsmanila.net. sports beat: basketball, boxing, mma, billiards,marathon and baseball.
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