Khabib considered UFC return, didn’t withdraw from USADA pool for months following Gaethje win

Javier Mendez is the head coach of the former undisputed UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Mendez has officially confirmed that his prodigy student seriously considered making a comeback to the Octagon in 2021. Remarkably, Khabib remained in the USADA testing pool for an impressive eight months after his retirement from combat sports.

Khabib Nurmagomedov gracefully retired from professional mixed martial arts in September 2020. His last match culminated in a second-round triangle submission victory over the then-interim champion, Justin Gaethje. With the win, Nurmagomedov effectively unified the lightweight titles.

The decision to retire came as a surprise to many, as Khabib cited the unfortunate passing of his father and head coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov as the primary reason behind his unexpected retirement. Khabib walked from the sport with an immaculate professional record of 29-0.

Speculation ran rampant within the MMA community concerning the possible return of the Dagestani to the Octagon. Khabib himself expressed that he would consider making a comeback if a fellow competitor showcased an exceptional performance on the UFC 257 card. The event featured notable combatants such as Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, Dan Hooker, and Michael Chandler.

Ultimately, Khabib Nurmagomedov decided against returning to active competition. UFC president Dana White reluctantly confirmed his retirement from the sport, putting an end to fans’ hopes of witnessing the legendary combatant in action once again.

According to Khabib’s head coach Javier Mendez, the possibility of a comeback lingered in Khabib’s mind as he contemplated achieving a remarkable 30-0 professional record. Mendez revealed that Khabib continued to participate in the USADA anti-doping testing pool for an extended period of up to eight months following his initial retirement.

Mendez told Grosvenor Sport: “After Khabib (Nurmagomedov) retired, they [USADA] were still testing them. Dana White didn’t remove Khabib from the testing pool after he retired because he still hoped Khabib would fight again, but 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.”

Mendez went on to say: “He was roughly tested for about eight months before he had enough. The UFC were trying to get him to come back and he came close. You saw it when we were in Abu Dhabi. He said, ‘If someone shows me something spectacular, then maybe I’ll come back.’ It was Conor vs. Poirier that night, but it did not get Khabib excited.”

“He said if something excited him on that card, then maybe he’d consider it. But it never happened, The UFC was pushing him, but nothing excited him, so it was a no go.”