Khabib Nurmagomedov has hinted he could return to the UFC just days after announcing his retirement from the sport.
The Russian retained his lightweight world title after forcing Justin Gaethje to submit in the second round last weekend in Abu Dhabi in a dominating display.
It saw him named as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and took his record to 29-0.
After the fight, he announced his retirement – citing the death of his father as a major reason for his decision.
He said: “It was the work of my life, I never got anything easy, and nothing was given to me because I’m a nice guy.
“Hard work, hope for Allah and patience, these three ingredients help me to get successful, and of course, control and advice from my father, who invested in me a lot of time and work.”
But Nurmagomedov could be about to announce his return to the sport after a sly hint.
According to UFC president Dana White, the 32-year-old could come back and fight a 30th time.
He told Submission Radio: “I was sitting there going, ‘Oh my god, you gotta be kidding me.’
“But, I’ll tell you this – and I haven’t told anybody this yet – Khabib and I have been talking.
“And he was completely emotional that night, when he got through that fight. I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0.”
When asked if reckons the Eagle will return to UFC, White added: ““Yeah, I do.
“I think that he’s not going to retire. I think, you know, his dad wanted him to get to 30-0. And, I think he wants to honor his dad’s wish.”
Nurmagomedov lost his father to coronavirus and promised his mother he would not fight anymore.
He said: “Today I want to say this is my last fight. No way am I coming here without my father. When the UFC came to me about Justin I spoke with my mother for three days.
“She didn’t want me to fight without my father and I said this is my last fight and I have given her my word.
“There is only one thing I want from the UFC, to put me as the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, the greatest in the world.
“I think I deserve it. I want to say thank you Dana [and the] Fertita brothers.
“Thank you so much Justin. I know you are great, I know how you take care of your people. Be close with your parents, because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Thank you coach, thank you guys. Today is my last fight in the UFC.”