UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje aired live from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, October 25, and saw Khabib Nurmagomedov pick up a second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje in the main event. After the win, Khabib announced his retirement as well. Below are the post-fight quotes from the event.
“Thank you for these guys, these guys with me, been with my father for more than 10 years. All my team, AKA with coach Javier, I love him so much, all my team. Today, I want to say, this was my last fight. No way am I going to come here without my father. It was first time, after what happened with my father, when UFC called me about Justin. I talk with my mother three days, she don’t want that I go fight without father. I promised her, it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here.
I know only one thing I want from UFC, you guys have to be me on No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, because I deserve this. UFC undisputed, undefeated lightweight champion, 13-0, 13 in UFC, 29 in all pro MMA career. I think I deserve it. One more thing, I want to say thank you Lorenzo Fertitta, thank you Dana, Hunter, all guys. Thank you so much, and of course I don’t forget about Joe Silva who signed me here in UFC. Joe Silva, thank you. All this UFC team, everybody around the world, this whole pandemic stuff, they are doing great show. Thank you so much Justin. Justin, 2016 I remember when I cut weight, you helped me a lot. Thank you brother. I know you are a great man, I know how you take care of your people. I know a lot of things about of you, because of your parents, because one day, it’s going to happen something. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow, you never know. Today is my last fight here in UFC. It was my father’s dream. Dustin and Conor are going to fight January, I choke them out, both of them. I’m not interested in this,”
“I thought it was a very good fight. I had a very good game plan set out, I and my team have worked diligently for that and it worked flawlessly, I thought I controlled the entire fight. I thought it played out like I thought it would. It’s a fight, we’re throwing punches, they’re going to land sometimes. He’s a tough guy, he was in it from the start to the end and it was a privilege to fight him. Honestly, it’s a blessing to be able to work in these crazy times, is amazing. How professional everything is, how professional the UFC have things set up, is amazing and I’m truly blessed.”
“I expect to finish him in the second round, but I was close in the first round too. Probably yes, all the fight went how I felt it would. Before this fight, they say that he is one of the best strikers in the heavyweight division, I showed that this is not true, he doesn’t touch me in this fight. We’ll keep striking, working on wrestling, everything too and we’ll show everyone that I am the best in the heavyweight division. Any big names, probably Overeem or Dos Santos. I’m not too used to celebrating wins, for me it just works. I’m just happy, this is enough for me. I will go home and I will start working on myself again.”
“It feels great, of course, but we can’t get too excited because we have bigger things in line, we’ve got the bigger picture, which is to be a world champion and that’s what we’re here for. I know since a lot of people watch my footage, they’re afraid of my right hand, I finish a lot of people with my right hand, and soon as I seen him go backward I knew exactly what he was afraid of. Fight Island has been amazing, I’m so blessed to be here. Thanks for the UFC putting it on, Dana White and all those guys. God willing, they did everything they had to do and now we’re here and it’s just amazing to be here.”
“I want a title shot next, I want a shot at the champion, whoever that may be. No, I yelled at the media to stop overlooking me. Stop overlooking me, I’m ranked No. 5 right now, what is that?
I wanted to hit her a little harder, but everybody in the UFC is good. We’re definitely going to take some things away that I can work on from this, which is perfect. I still got my first submission, which was a big goal for us, a big challenge, but to do it here in Abu Dhabi, it’s just really something special, I’m very, very happy. Hopefully, everyone will stop overlooking me. Almost my whole career, I’ve been the underdog, people have looked past me and I think that’s going to stop now. I’ve really grown into myself as an athlete, I’m a veteran in this game. I’ve seen it all, I’ve done it all and I think people are not going to look past me anymore,”
“I feel great, now I can finally sleep well. It was a six-month camp, so I did a really, really good job in the six months and today I proved it. I wanted to catch him, I wanted to finish with a counter and I finished with a counter. I think everybody in my division was watching this fight. I’m going after the top fighters, so I hope they’re waiting for me.
I’d love to fight a top-five fighter, but it would be interesting, and I would prefer to fight Shogun Rua or Anthony Smith, but other than that, anyone in the top five. I’m just happy that I can sleep well right now. I’m going to probably rest about two, three weeks, and hopefully get a top-five opponent.”