Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Gaethje in the main event on “UFC Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi to retain his title for the third straight time and extend his perfect professional career to 29-0. He then shocked the world by announcing his immediate retirement from the sport.

Nurmagomedov’s retirement prompted a plethora of tributes from fighters, sportsmen and fans alike, and now those messages have been joined by a statement from the Russian government, with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov issuing a statement to Championat.com.

“We are happy with his victory,” said Peskov.

“And congratulations to him. The rest is his choice.”

Nurmagomedov captured the vacant UFC lightweight title at UFC 223 by defeating Al Iaquinta, then defended the belt three times with submission finishes of Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and, most recently, Gaethje.

He represented Russia on the sport’s biggest stage, but never had the opportunity to defend his title on Russian soil. But his impact on the sport has received widespread plaudits, both at home in Russia and around the world.

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