Former UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, has apparently been enjoying retirement back in his native Russia after a final victory against Just Gaethje last October. The 32-year-old’s last match lasted just two rounds in which he used a triangle choke to force his opponent into submission.
After being declared winner, Khabib burst into tears in a rare show of emotion among UFC fighters. It was his first fight after losing his father, Abdulmanap, who had passed away at just 57 a couple of months earlier.
Since then, Khabib has spent a lot of his time coaching and training other MMA fighters to help get them ready for their matches. After earning a 29-0 record as a fighter, the “Dagestan Destroyer” has already amassed a 4-0 undefeated record as a coach.
But just a couple of months into retirement he appears to be getting restless and is considering what to do next with his career. This has sparked more rumors that he could be making a move to the WWE, something that has been discussed several times before.
In 2018, Khabib took to social media to confirm that he had been approached by WWE officials and that they had discussed him making an appearance inside the squared circle. In a Twitter post he said “@WWE ask me to jump inside. What do you think guys? #SmashLesnar”. This was immediately after the Russian made headlines around the world when he beat Conor McGregor in UFC 229.
Things went very quiet shortly afterward though, with little else being said for more than two years.
The latest rumors come after Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, suggested in an interview with TMZ that if any WWE wrestlers wanted to “get beat up for real” then they just had to give him a call. Abdelaziz certainly didn’t mince his words, getting into the WWE-style trash-talking by calling wrestlers “soft steroid freaks”.
He also set the bar very high, by adding “[Khabib]’ll go there and he’ll smash John Cena’s face. No problem”.
Such a fight would certainly get the attention of WWE fans and non-fans alike, so if the powers-that-be can make it happen, it seems pretty likely that they’d give it the green light. Such an event would likely be a giant cash cow for everyone involved, so there is clear motivation for it.
Of course, Khabib wouldn’t be the first fighter to jump between the UFC and the WWE. Brock Lesnar began his career as an amateur wrestler, before moving to the WWF/E in 2000. After a two-year stint in Japan, he began with mixed martial arts, debuting in the UFC in 2008. His stint in the championship was shorter than most, as he jumped back into wrestling, but during his time as an MMA fighter, he beat some of the most dangerous men in the sport. This helps him to stand out as one of the best UFC heavyweights of all time.
Lesnar and other big names like Ronda Rousey, CM Punk, and Dan Severn help to show there’s a lot of opportunities for MMA fighters and wrestlers to switch between the two sports and see success in both.
Will it Happen?
Of course, the only people that can answer this for certain will be Khabib, his manager, and the WWE. There are plenty of instances in the past of fighters hopping back and forth between the UFC and WWE, so it is definitely possible.
It would also almost certainly be a huge commercial success, which is another factor that goes in the favor of a match taking place.
But unlike many other fighters, Khabib doesn’t have a huge ego, which means he doesn’t have anything to prove. The loss of his father appears to have hit him hard and he apparently told his mother that he wouldn’t fight again without him there.
Instead, he appears to be channelling his energy into coaching, passing on his experience to a new generation of fighters.
Ultimately, only time will tell and fans hoping to see Khabib in the WWE will just have to keep their fingers crossed.