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‘Respect & condolences’: Conor McGregor buries hatchet with Khabib following UFC 254 retirement

One of the rawest rivalries in mixed martial arts history looks to be no more after Conor McGregor took to social media to offer his ‘respect and condolences’ to Khabib Nurmagomedov after he retired following victory at UFC 254.

Nurmagomedov confirmed to UFC commentator Jon Anik that he was retiring with an undefeated 29-0 record after he submitted top contender Justin Gaethje in the second round of their main event bout at UFC 254 on ‘Fight Island’ on Saturday night. 

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© Khabib Nurmagomedov was emotional after his victory at UFC 254. Getty images / Josh Hedges
Khabib RETIRES! UFC superstar Nurmagomedov SUBMITS Justin Gaethje, then announces his retirement at UFC 254

The Russian champion cited a promise he made to his mother that he would not continue his career outside the influence of his father and trainer Abdulmanap, who passed away in July weeks after being diagnosed with Covid-19. 

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News of Nurmagomedov’s retirement sent shockwaves through social media as fighters and fans alike paid tribute to one of the most dominant champions ever seen in the sport, with one coming from an unlikely source.

Good performance, @TeamKhabib,” Conor McGregor wrote on Twitter.

I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors.”

And so, a feud which festered for more than three years and took in all manner of insults and underground car park criminal damage was extinguished with a few taps of a thumb into a social media app – at least on one side. 

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Khabib was emotional after his victory over Justin Gaethje. © Getty Images / Zuffa LLC
‘Greatest champion in UFC history’: Cormier leads praise as MMA world reacts to Khabib retirement after victory at UFC 254

McGregor had publicly stated his own interest in re-matching Khabib after the fractious first meeting at UFC 229 two years ago but Nurmagomedov and his management team were repeatedly resistant to the idea. McGregor’s statement, on the surface at least, appears to show that he is also on the same page. 

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Of course, McGregor will no doubt have considered the ramifications of Nurmagomedov’s retirement on a UFC lightweight division which will soon be without a champion – and whether or not the UFC will afford him an opportunity to fight for a vacant title in his mooted January fight with Dustin Poirier. 

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