Khabib Nurmagomedov is on top of the world right now.
With a perfect 27-0 record coming off a dominant win over UFC superstar Conor McGregor last October, the Dagestani native has separated himself from the rest of the lightweight division, which could be the toughest weight class in the sport.
This Saturday, Nurmagomedov looks to defend his title for a second time in a unification bout against interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. A win would further cement Nurmagomedov’s standing as the best 155-pound fighter in the sport while also simultaneously building his legend as one of the only athletes to ever get this far into a career without suffering a single blemish on his record.
Of course, Nurmagomedov never does anything in his career on his own, which is why he always takes into account what the most important people around him say about his future. Nurmagomedov’s father has stated that he hopes his son retires sooner rather than later and it’s easy to understand why that would weigh on the 30-year-old UFC champion.
While Nurmagomedov admits he’s probably got less time ahead of him in his career than what’s already behind, he’s not ready to contemplate retirement just yet when he’s still in the prime of his career.
“Not yet. I’m not a young fighter. I’m not past, I am the UFC champion, I defend my title, this is my second defense,” Nurmagomedov said on the UFC 242 media conference call. “Of course I don’t have a lot of fights ahead before [I retire]. I don’t want to fight when I’m 40 years old, which is not my plan. We’ll see. Before I make the decision, I have to talk with my father and I have to talk to coach Javier [Mendes], all my brothers, my management team Dominance MMA and with all people around me. I cannot make this decision alone.
“But right now I’m focused on competition because I have too much fire inside.”
Retirements in mixed martial arts often come past the date when many believe a fighter should walk away from the sport. Add to that, only a handful of athletes actually call it a career and hang up the gloves for good versus the sheer number of fighters who retire and then stage a comeback a year or two later.
Nurmagomedov has no desire to stay past his expiration date but considering his title reign just started over a year ago, it’s doubtful he’s going to walk away any time soon.
“I have inside this fire, I am very competitive. I want to fight with the best guys in the world. That’s why I’m here,” Nurmagomedov said. “If I don’t feel I no longer want to compete, I’m going to finish. Right now I feel this [hunger], this motivation, this fire and that’s what I stay focused.
“I want to stay busy. I want to stay hungry. I want to stay focused, humble, this is the key.”
Before Nurmagomedov contemplates the future any further, he first needs to get past Poirier in the main event of UFC 242 this weekend.