A majority of the MMA community considers Khabib Nurmagomedov to be one of the all-time GOATs. The Russian’s dominance in MMA remains unparalleled, despite retiring from the sport in 2020. What’s impressive is not the undefeated record of 29-0 he retired with, but the way in which he achieved it. The wrestling powerhouse won almost every round and exchange in his 29-fight career.
Following the demise of his father, the Dagestani hung up the gloves after his final Octagon outing against Justin Gaethje. In his UFC debut in January 2012, ‘The Eagle‘ took on Kamal Shalorus. And since then, he went on a tear through the lightweight division, before capturing the gold against Al Iaquinta in 2018.
29-0 in MMA
13-0 in UFC
From Nashville to Fight Island, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s unstoppable eight-year run through the UFC is officially at an end 🦅
The Eagle retires unmatched and undefeated.
We were lucky to be there for the journey 🙌pic.twitter.com/cKZGiUnS92
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 19, 2021
Before calling it a career, Nurmagomedov defended the strap thrice – against Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje. Fans have always perceived that even winning a round against Khabib is a prestigious accolade a fighter can put on his resume. And his arch-rival ‘The Notorious‘ did just that.
The build-up to their in-cage meeting still remains one of the “darkest” ones in UFC history, as per President Dana White. The trash-talking and the hype that went into the press conferences were something to behold. This fight also marked the highly-successful athlete‘s return to MMA after a mega fight with Floyd Mayweather.
Before @TeamKhabib faces Justin Gaethje Saturday at #UFC254, @dc_mma dissected the set up that enabled The Eagle to knock down Conor McGregor during their UFC 229 fight.
Stream Detail on ESPN+ ▶️ https://t.co/tFoahEEncG pic.twitter.com/TRm60TaCRy
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 21, 2020
The two would eventually meet in a grudge match on October 6, 2018, at UFC 229. The 5-round main event had millions of eyeballs watching it. Khabib being Khabib, made it a point to settle everything in the cage as he went to manhandle McGregor for the first 4 rounds. Ultimately, the Russian submitted Conor, courtesy of a neck crank in the fourth round.
Being the only fighter to win a round against Khabib on every judge’s scorecard remains one of Conor’s biggest achievements. Unfortunately, Nurmagomedov’s retirement ended any possibility of a second fight between the two.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor: Judges’ Scorecards
As per the judges’ scorecards, Conor snatched round 3 from Khabib Nurmagomedov. All three judges scored the said round 10-9 in favor of the Irishman. The fight started with Khabib imposing his ground game on Conor during the first 2 rounds. However, by the third, McGregor seemed to have found his rhythm and angles to land on Khabib.
Here’s the scorecard for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor before the fight was finished for anyone curious #UFC229 pic.twitter.com/nNPztDjTxG
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 7, 2018
Going by the UFC stats, Conor landed 34 significant strikes out of his attempted 52. Whereas ‘The Eagle’ landed only 15 out of his 37 attempts. 22 shots out of the 34 that landed for Conor, made up for head strikes. The remaining 12 shots landed on the Russian’s body.
Unfortunately for Conor, Khabib made amends by finishing him in the following round. Despite winning the bout in an almost-dominating fashion, Khabib gave rise to a post-fight brawl that has remained infamous ever since. He also became the first athlete to knock Conor down with strikes when he dropped the Irishman in the 2nd round with an overhand right.
#UFC254 Official Scorecard: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje
All Scorecards: https://t.co/DeW9qO1NNL#InAbuDhabi | @VisitAbuDhabi pic.twitter.com/jtJE0BGp0R
— UFC News (@UFCNews) October 24, 2020
However, this isn’t the only round Khabib lost in his professional career. The 1st round of Dagestani’s final fight at UFC 254 was also a close one. ‘The Highlight‘ bagged a 10-9 on two of the three judges’ scorecards at with leg kicks and strikes. Unlike the Conor fight, the MMA community unanimously criticized the scoring as Khabib secured a takedown at the end of the round.
Having promised his mother it would be the last time he would fight, Khabib announced his retirement shortly after.