Coach: Dana White kept a retired Khabib Nurmagomedov in USADA testing pool for 8 months

Khabib Nurmagomedov still had UFC fighter obligations almost a year after retiring from professional competition according to his coach.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 3 months ago

Khabib Nurmagomedov retired from competition at UFC 254 2020 after defeating then-interim champion Justin Gaethje, marking his third successful title defense. It was a heavy year for “The Eagle,” who left the sport with a record of 29-0. 

In the months that followed, Khabib kept his word, unlike many of his contemporaries. But according to coach Javier Mendez, he continued to have UFC fighter obligations almost a year after announcing his retirement

Mendez: Khabib Nurmagomedov remained locked in with the UFC after retirement

In a conversation with betting website Grosvenor Sport, Mendez revealed that Khabib was still in the USADA testing pool eight months after retiring. That meant having obligatory visits from agents along with whereabouts rules which some fail to adhere to. 

“After Khabib retired, they were still testing him,” Mendez said (quotes via talkSPORT). 

“Dana White didn’t remove Khabib from the testing pool after he retired because he still hoped Khabib would fight again.”

Mendez says his superstar pupil just grew fed up with all the testing.

“Then Khabib had enough of being tested. So, he told Dana he didn’t want to test anymore and that he’s not coming back. 

“He was roughly tested for about eight months before he had enough.”

The UFC did try to get Khabib back in

Even with the slight possibility of having his super fight with Georges St-Pierre turned into a reality, Khabib Nurmagomedov immediately shut down calls for a return. He had his reasons, but one of the heavier ones was fulfilling his mother’s wish for him to retire. 

Khabib may have made a decision, but the UFC remained hopeful. Here’s an excerpt of a March 2021 interview with Dana White, five months since Nurmagomedov retired. 

“Let some of these fights play out to see who would fight next for the title. I think if Khabib is interested, he’ll take the fight. … There’s still a chance.”

MMA: UFC 229 - Weigh Ins, Oct 5, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor are separated by Dana White during weigh-ins for UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports, 05.10.2018 17:38:20, 11380256, NPStrans, T-Mobile Arena, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dana White, MMA, TopPic, Conor McGregor PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xStephenxR.xSylvaniex 11380256

Khabib Nurmagomedov post-UFC career

After retiring at the prime age of 32, Khabib pursued other endeavors. He launched his very own promotion Eagle FC and signed high-profile names like former UFC champions Renan Barã0, Junior Dos Santos, and TUF alum and fan-favorite Diego Sanchez. 

Khabib’s coaching stint also turned out to be as successful as his fighting career. His biggest win happened in October 2022 at UFC 280 when he helped steer Islam Makhachev towards the then-vacant lightweight title. 

In early 2023, Khabib stepped down from his coaching duties and decided to focus more on his family. He was absent from Makhachev’s corner at UFC 284, who at the time defended the undisputed 155-pound title against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski

Makhachev won via a controversial unanimous decision. According to Khabib, he “aged 50 years” after watching the fight. 

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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