Benjamin Turner, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC career was nothing short of phenomenal. The former UFC Lightweight Champion out of Russia had an impressive 29-0 record in the books, with him announcing his retirement on March 18th, 2021, shocking many around the world. To celebrate this fighter’s amazing career, here are some of the best moments of Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov.
Khabib defeats Edson Barboza
Khabib faced off against arguably his most dangerous challenger, elite striker Edson Barboza at UFC 219 in Paradise, Nevada. Barboza is known for his diverse arsenal of footwork, as well as his amazing whipping kicks. Khabib was able to endure Barboza, surprising many with his overwhelming performance over the Brazilian, winning after three rounds. Khabib was able to put the lightweight division on notice with his fight, earning the “Performance of the Night” effort.
Khabib defeats Al Iaquinta for UFC lightweight title
Khabib got his taste of gold when he faced “Brooklyn Gangster” Al Iaquinta for the vacant lightweight title at UFC 223 in Iaquinta’s hometown of Brooklyn, New York. Iaquinta has the edge over Khabib, with his amazing takedown defense. However, after a slugfest Khabib was able to adjust to his fighting style, pumping a devastating jab to Iaquinta for the win.
Khabib submits Dustin Poirier to unify the lightweight title
Dustin Poirier was a red hot opponent for Khabib, coming off of four consecutive wins over the likes of Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, and Eddie Alvarez, all former champions. This did not phase Nurmagomedov, as he was riding off the momentum from his biggest win to date, submitting Conor McGregor at UFC 229, which put him into the spotlight. The pressure was on Khabib, with his father coming to his corner for the first time, he was also in Abu Dhabi, and he was a major factor in getting the UFC back there due to his popularity with the Middle-Eastern market. Khabib didn’t disappoint, holding an amazing pace throughout the whole fight, even making Poirier frustrated, telling his corner, “I can’t get him off me,”. He eventually choked “The Diamond” out after dragging him down to the ground in round three.
Silenced Conor McGregor in first title defense
After a heated leadup to the fight, Khabib would finally get his hands on ‘The Notorious’ at UFC 229 in Nevada, which went on to be the highest-selling pay-per-view in UFC history. Khabib was able to overwhelm McGregor throughout rounds one and two, however, McGregor won round three, keeping the fight alive. During round four, the momentum went back to Khabib, eventually making Conor tap out from a neck crank.
Khabib’s retirement match
Khabib entered UFC 254 seemingly a changed man, as this was the first fight after his father passed away due to cancer. He faced Justin Gaethje in Fight Island, with an amazing back and forth matchup. However, Nurmagomedov put Gaethje to sleep with a triangle choke to win his last match. Khabib teared up post-fight in an emotional moment, thereafter retiring from the UFC and Mixed Martial Arts altogether.