Khabib Nurmagomedov has left UFC on a high note, says Mark Weir

UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov left the sport on a high note and is 100 per cent the GOAT, believes former MMA star Mark Weir.

The Russian dominated Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 before sensationally retiring from the Octagon following the death of his father earlier this year.

Nurmagomedov extended his unbeaten record to 29-0 with a second-round submission win in Abu Dhabi – his third successful title defence, having previously beaten Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.

It was his first fight without his father and coach, Abdulmanap, who died from complications caused by coronavirus.

Weir told Sky Sports’ Ed Draper: “If you’re going to leave the sport, you’ve got to leave it like that. The way he performed, you can tell it was a do or die situation, it was unbelievable.

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“With all the problems he’s having it actually put a bit more energy and determination [in his win]. It could have gone one way or the other, but it went positive for him. It made him look stronger, it made him a beast. Garthje didn’t look like he was supposed to be there with him”

https://youtube.com/watch?v=8cMVIDG6RE8%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Weir on Kabib’s retirement

“He’s probably feeling it. He’s got to look over to his corner where I was hoping that his corner would be enough support to weather the storm if he needs it. He left with his mother not wanting him to fight and not compete without his dad. He’s grown up and his mother has watched them two go out and train together, fight together, it’s a family affair. If his mother is a bit upset, it’s hard on him. Think about it – it can be motivating in one area, because his dad wanted to see him be the best ever, but he has his mother on the other side, feeling reluctant because she doesn’t want to see him get hurt. It a hard position to be in.”

Was Kabib at his best?

“He’s getting better and better and I don’t think you can outdo that performance [vs Gaethje], he could do another four or fights like that. I thought GSP [Georges St-Pierre] would be his last one. But he was determined for his dad’s legacy and his own, I think he’s done the right thing. The way he performed, you couldn’t wish for more, I can understand why he was crying. If anyone was going to leave the sport like that, no one can say “He’s gone out to early, he couldn’t beat me”, no one is going to question him.”

Is he really the GOAT?

“One hundred per cent. In my heyday you had Anderson Silva and then you’ve got GSP and Israel Adesanya against Paulo Costa, that performance was unbelievable. But with the record he’s got, it’s going to be hard to match that, with no defeats. No one can say, ‘I could have beaten you’. This one [against Gaethje] was supposed to be the hardest fight and he made the guy look like he shouldn’t be there. That’s the way to leave.”

Khabib’s legacy

“When you go into MMA, I came from a stand-up, kickboxing background, you learn as you go along. You have to feel what it’s like to be taken down, you have to feel what it’s like trying to escape to stand up and when you feel the certain successes and certain areas where you’re weak, you work on your weakness. But 100 per cent, the strength that you’ve got, you try to build on that, so it becomes even better. With Khabib he’s constantly growing and learning on how to dominant people and if they have little glimpses of a chance to get out of stuff, he’ll make it even worse next time around, he’s learning from his successes.

“He needs to test himself on all areas because Khabib is well rounded. Even his stand up, look at what he did on his stand up with [Conor] McGregor, he knocked him down. He’s a perfect, well-rounded fighter. “

Who could have beaten Khabib?

“The sport is evolving. If you go back to the early UFC and the way people use to fight, they didn’t really have the skills they have now. The average UFC fighter now could go back in the past and destroy all the previous fighters, because how they’ve evolved. The way people are knocking each other out, they’re being creative. So, you’re going to see someone else come through and they’re going to like the previous fighters but then some.

“We’re learning from what we see. We see it in all combat sports. Everyone is going to build off the successful fighters, the champions and have pieces of them. So, the fighters in the next two years, is going to be a replicate of the previous champions. People will then say. ‘yeah, he could have beaten Khabib’. Yes, he could of because Khabib contributed to his skills.”

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