Hundreds of elite fighters have stepped into the UFC octagon since the inception of the company. A select few became legends, even less retired on top. In 2020 Khabib Nurmagomedov was added to this shortlist.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is The Scrap’s 2020 Retirement of the Year.
Honorable Mentions: Henry Cejudo, Undertaker and Daniel Cormier.
Every now and then a special fighter comes along, not special because they have a good record or flashy finishes, but special in the sense that they shake up the company. Ironically enough the last fighter to make an impact as big as the one Khabib made, was Conor McGregor. It quickly became clear that the division was at the mercy of its champion. As Khabib ran through the division’s elite and made it look easy, many wondered who was next. Conor again? Georges St-Pierre? Despite these speculations, the Dagestan native had other plans.
Following the loss of his father Khabib no doubt shook up the MMA world and had the best retirement of the year. We do not mean the best retirement in a jovial way, but in a way that highlights the impact Khabib has left on the sport.
The retirement of Khabib in 2020 left us wanting more, which is more than we can say for many legends of the sport. We have seen pillars of MMA go too long, and hurt their legacy. While we would’ve wanted Khabib to continue, he retired undefeated and one of the undeniable greatest of all-time. Despite the name of the award, this won the best retirement because of the impact it made. This retirement did not just impact Khabib, the division, or even the UFC, this retirement impacted fans.
We all loved watching Khabib, of course, but for those who share the culture, this was so much more than a fighter. This was representation, this was someone who inspired people despite how they viewed their chances of succeeding. Canada had Georges St-Pierre, Ireland had Conor, Dagestan had Khabib.
The amount of young people Khabib may have inspired during his short run on top makes this the best retirement of the year.