Khabib Nurmagomedov's head coach, Javier Mendez, says it was a "total shock" when the lightweight champion announced his retirement after beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
"I learned about it while he was giving the speech," Mendez told Submission Radio on Monday. "My jaw dropped. I went, 'What?' I mean, he plays the best poker face on the planet."
Nurmagomedov revealed after the fight he'd promised his mother that the Gaethje bout - which resulted in a second-round submission victory - would mark his final trip to the Octagon. His father, Abdulmanap, died in July from a heart condition complicated by COVID-19.
Mendez, who coaches at American Kickboxing Academy, said he would've liked to see Nurmagomedov fight once more to extend his professional record to 30-0. But he respects the fighter's decision and said he believes "The Eagle" is retired for good.
"As much as the fans - and even myself as a coach, I would love to have him back ... I think he's done," Mendez said.
"You're not gonna get me trying to convince him otherwise," he added. "If anything, I'll say, 'Hey, you said you're retired, stay retired.'"