UFC 254: The Scorecard

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It wasn’t the end we expected to the career of Khabib Nurmagomedov, but maybe we should have seen it coming, simply because “The Eagle” has never done things in a conventional fashion. The Dagestan native always marched to the beat of his own drum, and that individuality extended to his work inside the Octagon, where the game plan always remained the same. There were no tweaks to his attack to prepare for certain opponents, no curveballs to throw his foes off. Nurmagomedov told you what was coming and he dared you to stop it. And no one ever did. It’s why today, fresh from a submission win over Justin Gaethje that lifted his perfect record to 29-0, the debates aren’t about where he stands in today’s MMA world after his retirement, but where he stands all-time. Sure, you want to see the great ones tested, show the ability to roar back from adversity and engage is fights that go down in the books as all-time classics. But what of the fighters so good that they never got the opportunity to pull out a last-minute win or rise from the canvas in an all-out brawl to secure a victory? Nurmagomedov was that guy, and if you want to call him the best of all-time, you have a strong case, depending on what you want to see out of your MMA heroes. But even if you don’t consider him the greatest to ever put on the gloves, you have to admit he’s in the top five at the very least. That’s quite a legacy to leave, but maybe more important is that this could be one of the rare MMA retirements to stick, and in keeping a promise to his mother, he’s certainly made his late father proud.

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