MOSCOW (Agencies): Former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov “does not think anything” could tempt him back to the UFC after revealing he agreed with his mother to retire following his beloved father’s death.
Nurmagomedov, 33, is considered one of the great MMA fighters of all time and retired last October with a 29-0 unbeaten professional record.
Just four months previously, his father and mentor Abdulmanap had passed away. Nurmagomedov said he retired “at the perfect time” and it was a “good decision”.
The Russian also revealed UFC president Dana White had asked him to consider a return a couple of months ago. Asked about the likelihood of that happening, he replied: “No I don’t think so. I don’t know if my mind changes and I go a bit crazy, we never know what is going to happen tomorrow. “Right now I am not drunk on life. I am good, Alhamdulillah.” Nurmagomedov has been on a tour of the UK and was speaking at a fundraising event for charity SKT Welfare at London’s Indigo at the O2.
In a wide-ranging interview he spoke about:
Trying to forgive UFC rival Conor McGregor
Influence of his father growing up and during his career
Making the decision to retire
Being a global superstar and dealing with mental health
His love of football
‘Life has already smashed McGregor’
Nurmagomedov had a bitter rivalry in UFC with McGregor, and in April 2019 the Irish fighter aimed an Islamophobic insult at his opponent, who is a practising Muslim. In October 2018, both men were suspended and fined when a post-fight brawl marred their UFC 229 contest, which Nurmagomedov had won courtesy of a fourth-round submission.
“Father was a different person than me,” said Nurmagomedov.”In situations he always had different views than mine. When the things happened with McGregor, he told me to leave it because Allah always has a plan, he always tests you. “Even when he talked bad about my religion, father said try to forgive. He used to say I am an emotional guy, so how can I forgive [McGregor]? I have to fight with him and smash him. “I cannot understand 100% the thoughts of my father but as time goes by I can see it. I don’t need to smash him any more, life has already smashed him.”
‘It was like an army life’
Growing up in the mountains of Dagestan in Russia, says Nurmagomedov, his father was a huge influence on his life. He died at a Moscow hospital in July 2020 following complications caused by coronavirus.
He said: “All my life, my father never had a business. I don’t know how he made money; all his life he spent investing in people. “I remember when we were kids, he took me, my brother and cousins from the village and moved to the city. There were not too many opportunities and we lived in one house for 10 years. Some went to school but we trained together morning and night.
“It was like an army life. All day he tried to teach us good manners, push us in education, push us in the gym and he sacrificed his life to invest in me and my brothers. From this house there have been seven world UFC champions and all these guys have helped a lot of people.”
‘Retiring was the right decision’
Nurmagomedov retired from UFC last October after defeating interim champion Justin Gaethje with a second-round choke submission.
Asked whether it was a tough decision, he said: “It was very tough. it was a tough time in my life because I just lost my father in July and fought in October.
“When my father died, my mother and I made the decision that it was going to be the last fight. I fought for a legacy and only came into sport to make history and to give motivation to the younger generations.
“If you are from the mountain, are from a poor part of the world, if you have a dream you can do whatever you want. I defended my title twice with my father but I wondered why I need to follow this path without my father?
“One day everything will come to an end anyway and it was a perfect time to finish. I think this was the right decision to retire, even after a year it was a good decision.”