Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov agreed about the fact that he misses the competitive element of being at the top level of the sport. However, he made no qualms about that fact that he does not miss being an athlete and the pressure that comes with it.
Nurmagomedov (29-0) called time on an amazing career in mixed martial arts after forcing Justin Gaethje to a second-round technical submission.
So high was the pressure that Khabib felt, he compared being a high-level athlete to a prison sentence in an interview with UFC Russia on Monday.
“I am living the life of an ordinary person, not the one of a professional athlete,” Nurmagomedov said.
“I think living the life of an athlete is somewhat close to being held in a prison. Because every day 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.”
However, having been in such an environment, it is not all that easy for Khabib to just forget it all.
“Well, I miss almost everything if I can say so,” he said.
“There are so many moments when I feel lack of competition or its 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 said no to this sport anyway.”
UFC president Dana White seemed to have done his best to convince Khabib for one final fight, but “The Eagle” was sure he did not want to return to the ring. He took the decision to retire following the death of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
“Only time will tell [if this was the right time to retire]. 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.”
Khabib, however, isn’t entirely satisfied with how his career panned out. This comes despite notching wins against some of the leading fighters in the sport, including Gaethje, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and more.
“Well of course in our sport, it’s the highest peak — to win the belt, to become the best fighter. 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.”
Do you think Khabib should reconsider his decision of retiring? Let us know in the comments section below!