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Khabib Nurmagomedov retires after retaining 155-pound title at UFC 254

"The Eagle" has landed for the last time in the Octagon.

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov made it look easy at UFC 254 Saturday afternoon, submitting interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje in the second round and then announcing his retirement afterward.

After a close first round, Nurmagomedov (29-0) continued to roll into the second frame, effortlessly working from a takedown into a triangle choke that Gaethje (22-3) couldn't escape, tapping several times before the referee finally called it off. Interestingly, two judges did give Gaethje the first round while the consensus among media was that the champion had won the round.

An emotional Nurmagomedov announced he was retiring as his mother said she didn't want him to fight anymore without his father being around to see him. His father (also his longtime trainer) died earlier this year due to complications from COVID-19. All he wants at this point is to be ranked the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC when the rankings are released Tuesday.

At the press conference afterward, Dana White said Nurmagomedov's corner said he almost wasn't able to fight due to either a broken foot or broken toes suffered three weeks ago.

The 32-year-old has been in the UFC since January 2012, winning the vacant lightweight title in a dominant victory over last minute replacement Al Iaquinta in April 2018. He defended the title three times, most notably against rival Conor McGregor in his first title defense. McGregor did send out a congratulatory tweet after the fight.

The loss snapped Gaethje's four fight streak of wins and finishes. 

If the retirement sticks, that eliminates a rematch against McGregor that the former champion has wanted as well as a dream fight against George St. Pierre that both men discussed wanting with White as the barrier. Then, there's the Tony Ferguson fight that almost happened so many times for fate to repeatedly take it away.

It's likely that if McGregor and Dustin Poirier have their rematch in late-January as both men have discussed, it will be for the vacant title.