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Javier Mendez says Khabib Nurmagomedov still hasn’t hit peak despite retirement

Javier Mendez knows Khabib Nurmagomedov still has plenty left in the tank, but won’t pressure him to come out of retirement.

UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC) left the game on top, hanging up his gloves after submitting Justin Gaethje in the second round at UFC 254 in October.

Since then, UFC president Dana White has tried to lure “The Eagle” out of retirement, but Nurmagomedov stayed firm on his decision. With dominant wins over the likes of Gaethje, Conor McGregor, and Dustin Poirier, Nurmagomedov reiterated that it would have to be something special to get him to return.

Nurmagomedov’s constant improvements through his recent performances against the highest-caliber opponents have led many to wonder just how high the Russian’s ceiling could be. Even Mendez admitted that Nurmagomedov was only scratching the surface of his potential, especially in his striking.

“He was just starting to get into the groove where he was starting to feel a little bit comfortable kicking,” Mendez told MMA Junkie. “He’s still not fluent with the kicking, but he was effective as you saw with the Justin fight. So no, he had so much more to go as far as his stand up. The ground, well, I’ve never seen anybody better than him on the ground. He’s the best that’s ever been on the ground in MMA.

“But, in regards to his improvement scale, yeah he has a lot more growth and he’s still young enough, 32. So yeah he still has a lot of years left. Could be four if he wanted, but unfortunately, that’s not gonna be on the cards.”

After the passing of his father, Nurmagomedov made a promise to his mother that he will no longer compete. While Mendez knows that Nurmagomedov has many years ahead of him, he won’t meddle in any decisions regarding the Russian’s fighting future.

“I’ve never even discussed why he retired,” Mendez said. “I’ve never discussed any of that, so I can’t really speak on the behalf that he feels comfortable with it because I really haven’t talked to him. I could tell you he’s extremely busy. He’s doing so many great things, creating like his Eagle Fighting Championship and all these other projects that he’s got going on. He’s doing a lot of goodwill, a lot of charity work. He’s doing a lot of good things for everybody.

“So I don’t really know if it’s all good (that he’s retired). I don’t really know because I never discussed it with him and, to be honest with you, I’m not going to. I’m just gonna be there for him regardless of what decision he makes. Like I always tell him, whenever you look to your right, your coach is gonna be right there. Whatever decision he makes, I’m gonna be there. Whether he wants to come back or he never wants to come back, I’m there.”

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