KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV'S 'competitive' spirit will eventually lead him back to the octagon, a fellow former UFC champ has claimed.
The undefeated Russian stunned the mixed martial arts world last October by announcing his retirement after beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
Nurmagomedov, 32, flirted with the prospect of returning to the cage last month but has seemingly performed another U-turn.
But former UFC heavyweight champion Bas Rutten reckons the lightweight champion's desire to compete will prompt him to reverse his decision to retire.
He told SunSport: "I have to see with Khabib. He's a very competitive guy.
"In two years from now, is the blood going, 'I would love to fight again'?
"And we would all love to see him fight again and he'll make a killing.
"Maybe he will be back. I have that feeling because he's just that competitive."
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Rutten, like many others, was shocked by Nurmagomedov's decision to bring the curtain down on his Hall-of-Fame career when he's still very much at the peak of his powers.
The 55-year-old said: "It's pretty early. He's pretty young. Fighting is a very hard thing to let go of, man.
"I mean doing it in front of thousands of people, knocking somebody out and people going nuts and the winning, it's a feeling you can't replace with anything.
"It's why a lot of fighters start drinking or doing drugs because their careers are over and they try to replace that feeling with something.
"OK, that's available.' They're always thrill seekers.
"If we want it, we want two of it, more is better, you know? That's the way we are.
"We have very addictive personalities, which is great in training but is very dangerous when you stop training or get injured."
Like Nurmagomedov, Rutten, 55, retired from mixed martial arts prematurely – although the Dutchman's career came to an end due to injury.
But with the benefit of hindsight, El Guapo is happy with his decision to hang up his gloves before he could no longer compete with the up-and-coming heavyweights – which he believes could end up being the case with Nurmagomedov.
The Dutchman said: "I was forced to retire because of injuries. And I hated it at the time, but I'm very happy now because I didn't lose in my last 22 fights.
"And the reason is because I was forced to stop. Because I'm that knucklehead who keeps on fighting and thinks he can beat everybody.
"But you can't, you're getting older and these guys are younger and younger and stronger and stronger. Eventually, you're going to lose.
"It saved my career at the end. I had a great way to wrap up my career."
Despite Nurmagomedov making it crystal clear he has no desire to fight at this moment in time, the UFC have yet to relieve him of the lightweight title.
UFC supremo Dana White is confident of convincing the Dagestani destroyer of competing again and plans to meet with him later this month to try and twist his arm one more time.
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