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ESPN's "ESPY" Awards named retired UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as their MMA fighter of the year at ceremonies held in New York on Saturday. Despite only fighting once in the past year before leaving the sport - a dominating 2nd round submission win over Justin Gaethje to defend his lightweight title last October - Nurmagomedov beat out fellow UFC fighters Francis Ngannou, Amanda Nunes and Rose Namajunas in the fan based voting.
Nurmagomedov, who lost his father and longtime coach Abdulmanap to COVID-19 last year, announced his retirement immediately following his victory over Gaethje and has resisted inducements from the UFC to return to the octagon. He becomes the second ESPY winner in the MMA category. Heavyweight Daniel Cormier won the award in 2019 and there was no winner last year due to the COVID pandemic.