Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0-0) unified the lightweight championship Saturday afternoon with a win over interim champion Justin Gaethje (22-3-0) but even more shocking was the announcement of his retirement from MMA.

Gaethje, who shocked Tony Ferguson previously to earn the title shot, came out extremely cautious, using footwork and carefully timed strikes to try and chip away at ‘The Eagle.’ And indeed a Gaethje leg kick did appear to briefly affect Khabib. But Nurmagomedov simply increased the pace while slowly mixing in strikes – including a flying knee – that indicated it was simply a matter of time before he dragged the fight to the ground.

Nurmagomedov get the takedown late and secured an armbar but ran out of time.

The second round saw Gaethje again land some nice leg kicks and strikes but again got caught on the ground where Nurmagomedov baited Gatheje into a triangle submission where referee Jason Herzog called the bout at 1:34.

In the emotional post-fight interview, Khabib, in tears with Gaethje and his team standing by, revealed that he promised his mother that today’s fight would be his last one as she did not want him to fight without his father, Abdulmanap, who passed away earlier this year.

The win allowed Nurmagomedov to notch his 13th win inside the octagon and retires as the undisputed lightweight champion and very likely No. 1 on the UFC’s P4P ranking.

Gaethje, who was gracious in defeat, will likely be in the running again for the belt as it will be vacated shortly by Khabib. Tony Ferguson is another contender who should be in the conversation.

Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the main card.

Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the main card matchups.

UFC 254 FIGHT PASS PRELIMS

JOEL ALVAREZ VS. ALEXANDER YAKOVLEV

WINNER: JOEL ALVAREZ VIA SUBMISSION (ARMBAR) R1 3:00

ANDREWS PREDICTION: JOEL ALVAREZ VIA SUBMISSION

Andrews: That was a quick and nifty armbar.

LIANA JOJUA VS. MIRANDA MAVERICK 

WINNER: MIRANDA MAVERICK VIA TKO (DOCTOR’S STOPPAGE)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: LIANA JOJUA VIA SUBMISSION

Andrews: The doctor stopped this one after a Miranda elbow. It is what it is.

UFC 254 PRELIMS 

DA UN JUNG VS. SAM ALVEY

WINNER: SPLIT DRAW (28-29, 29-28, 28-28)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: DA UN JUNG VIA TKO

Andrews: Fun fight. Both guys got their licks in.

ALEX OLIVEIRA VS. SHAVKAT RAKHMONOV 

WINNER: SHAVKAT RAKHMONOV VIA SUBMISSION (GUILLOTINE CHOKE) R1 4:40

ANDREWS PREDICTION: SHAVKAT RAKHMONOV VIA SUBMISSION

Andrews: Quick thinking of Rakhmonov to grab the neck and cinch in the guillotine.

NATHANIEL WOOD VS. CASEY KENNEY 

WINNER: CASEY KENNEY VIA UD (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: CASEY KENNEY VIA UD

Andrews: Great fight. Back and forth but Kenney did a bit more.

STEFAN STRUVE VS. TAI TUIVASA

WINNER: TAI TUIVASA VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R1 4:59

ANDREWS PREDICTION: Tai Tuivasa VIA TKO

Andrews: The same problem for Struve. Guys seem to be able to get to his chin.

MAIN CARD

#11 MAGOMED ANKALAEV VS. ION CUTELABA 

WINNER: MAGOMED ANKALAEV VIA KO (PUNCHES) R1 4:19

ANDREWS PREDICTION: MAGOMED ANKALAEV VIA TKO

Andrews: This time, Ankalaev turned green and went to work.

#5 LAUREN MURPHY VS. LILIYA SHAKIROVA 

WINNER: LAUREN MURPHY VIA SUBMISSION (RNC) R2 2:31

ANDREWS PREDICTION: LAUREN MURPHY VIA UD

Andrews: Not a bad performance on short notice by Shakirova. But Murphy used her size and experience to put her away.

PHIL HAWES VS. JACOB MALKOUN

WINNER: PHIL HAWES VIA KO (PUNCH) R1 0:18

ANDREWS PREDICTION: PHIL HAWES VIA TKO

Andrews: Another star is born.

#7 ALEXANDER VOLKOV VS. #10 WALT HARRIS 

WINNER: ALEXANDER VOLKOV VIA TKO (STRIKES) R2 1:15

ANDREWS PREDICTION: ALEXANDER VOLKOV VIA UD

Andrews: Stephan Struve, take notes please.

#1 ROBERT WHITTAKER VS. #2 JARED CANNONIER

WINNER: ROBERT WHITTAKER VIA UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: JARED CANNONIER VIA TKO

Andrews: Vintage Whittaker performance. Perhaps Cannonier is not quite ready for primetime.

MAIN EVENT

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV VS. #1 JUSTIN GAETHJE 

WINNER: KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV VIA SUBMISSION (TRIANGLE CHOKE) R2 1:34

ANDREWS PREDICTION: KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV VIA TKO

Andrews: Wow. He sliced through Justin like butter. He retires as the lightweight GOAT.

@kenaiandrews

UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomedov submits Justin Gaethje, retires from MMA