It appears the now former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has retired for good, but we here at the MMA Press Room remain unconvinced and fully expect to see Nurmagomedov competing in the Octagon once again. Having essentially cleared out the UFC lightweight division, Nurmagomedov took on all comers inside the cage and in the process emerged victorious and undefeated throughout 29 professional fights. The undisputed 155-pound champion, Nurmagomedov has nothing left to prove in the UFC's lightweight division. Virtually the only accomplishments escaping “The Eagle” inside the cage at this point remain a potential superfight against UFC welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre and the chance to become a multiple weight division champion; the possibilities of which still remain on the table today for Nurmagomedov despite recent reports in the media of Khabib officially being finished with mixed martial arts for good.
“Khabib has gone from champion to troll in record time,’ notes ESPN MMA analyst Chael Sonnen in his March 18, 2021 YouTube video titled, “Khabib Nurmagomedov, from Champion to Troll….” Perhaps the best choice to replace UFC president Dana White upon retirement, Sonnen took a deep dive into the reiterated Nurmagomedov retirement news and dissected the situation through the lens of an expert in his field.
“I mean, I got to tell you the things Khabib is doing on social media to troll the fans, these are normally things I would love,” said Sonnen. “I mean these are normally things I would look at, I would look at how many engagements there are, how many likes, how many Retweets and I go, ‘Wow, you did a great job.’ It’s just a little bit bizarre because the one thing Khabib’s image and character is based on and one of the reasons that people love him so much is that he is a man of his word. He doesn’t play around,” Sonnen said.
“Khabib doesn’t find this funny. You say you want to fight him? 'Send me location,' right? I mean this is a Khabibism. 'Send me location' is a Khabibism. To the highest of levels, it’s right up there with Conor McGregor and ‘Who the fook is that guy?' Like it’s one of these things, if you’re within the vernacular of the space you know exactly what ‘Send me location means’ and you know what ‘fook’ means,” reasoned Sonnen.
“And Khabib has now done a photo where he is with Lorenzo Fertitta and he tags Dana, it's ‘Send me the location.’ Now, if you were to juxtapose that with Khabib, who is well known as a man of his word, that means he is going to fight. Period. ‘Send me the location Dana,’ means I accept the fight. So Khabib doesn’t accept the fight? You see the problem here, right?” Sonnen asked.
“When a guy leaves the sport, all he’s got is his legacy. He has nothing else. He’s not going to build anything else. Khabib left intact. Not only with the title, with a beautiful record, with a huge popularity in a certain part of the world, but he also left as a man of his word. And his word, as of today through social media is that he’s going to fight,” Sonnnen argued.
“And you can try to run that back all you want; you can try to spin that all that you want. Khabib saying, ‘Send me the location,’ means I’m going to fight," explained Sonnen. "But I have a feeling that he’s not going to fight.”
“I love the fact that he’s trolling," said Sonnen. "I love anybody that can stay out of the ring and stay in people’s headlines. They’re doing something very good, but this one is starting to get a little bit confusing,” admitted Sonnen.
Though pure speculation, it helps to keep in mind that in many cases the comments emanating from some of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts are in fact the words and actions of their managers posing as their clients on social media. An increasingly common practice, these managers serve as the liaison between the athletes and the promoters themselves. Carefully guarding their clients public image, these managers take control of their fighters social media accounts in order to prevent any unnecessary embarassment. And unfortunately, sometimes along the way the possibility of signals becoming crossed occurs when two or more personalities are ultimately in control of the message.
“He says he’s going to fight," Sonnen continued. "He said it today. Not only is he going to fight, ‘Just pick the location and send it to me.' Says he’s ready to go. Now if I juxtapose against something he put out earlier in the week, which is him in San Jose. He also said how nice it is to be here, not having to train and not worrying about weight. And that’s a head scratcher too man," admitted Sonnen. "God bless him and everything they have done for the team. Is Khabib the coach of the team or not?”
“And that whole thing is a weird paradox that I don’t think anybody will ever be able to explain," said Sonnen. "You have a team from Dagestan who does not speak English, who comes over here, sleeps 6-deep in a hotel room to get training with a coach who doesn’t speak the language that they speak. Oh, and by the way, the returning champion of the world, the principle of this story, Khabib himself is allegedly now their coach? Well, sounds like now you’ve got everything that you need,” argued Sonnen.
“You had a facility built for you in Dagestan. We know this because there’s a beautiful tour done and the government helped to fund it. Putin himself, by the way,” explained Sonnen in recounting the basic variables of the equation back to his listening audience.
“We now have the coach of the team, who inherited it from his own father and you have the members of the team; but they’re all getting in a plane and they are all going to San Jose? This is just weird," explained Sonnen in what has unfortunately proved to be an accurate assessment of the entire Khabib Nurmagomedov retirement situation. "This doesn’t make any level of sense," said Sonnen."What do you think they have in San Jose?”
Interestingly, Javier Mendez, Khabib Nurmagomedov's striking coach at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California recently appeared on the March 18th, 2021 episode of the “Real Quick with Mike Swick Podcast” and claimed Nurmagomedov was still in the USADA testing pool despite being retired. Not something any professional fighter with plans of returning to the sport removes themselves from halfheartedly due to the 6-month waiting period required to return back to competition, this fact alone testifies to the fact Nurmagomedov might not be quite as retired as some would like us to think. Recently spotted with UFC president Dana White at “UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland” this past Saturday night on ESPN, Nurmagomedov seems to be spending a lot time with the promotion lately for a fighter who is officially retired from the sport. Which is one of many reasons why the MMA Press Room still remains unconvinced of Nurmagomedov's actual retirement and we fully expect to see "The Eagle" competing inside the Octagon once again.