It’s an image so one can for all time be burned into the minds of the combined martial arts community – Khabib Nurmagomedov, sparkling off filing Justin Gaethje, curled right into a ball and weeping withinside the middle of the Octagon at UFC 254.

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The second changed into certainly considered one among uncommon vulnerability for a champion who nearly in no way had this type of second in his expert career, and the context simplest brought weight to the gut punch of the visual. The fight changed into the primary because Nurmagomedov’s father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, surpassed away in July because of coronary heart headaches worsened through COVID-19.  All that love and ache and grief uniquely recognized to people who misplaced a discern too soon – and in particular to people who misplaced a father parent held with such love and admiration – uncorked itself in Nurmagomedov in that second, a lovely show after what changed into any other commanding performance.

“Today, I want to say, this was my last fight,” he said in an emotional Octagon interview.” No way am I going to come here without my father. It was first time, after what happened with my father, when UFC called me about Justin. I talk with my mother three days, she don’t want that I go fight without father. I promised her, it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here.”

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