A little over a week ago undefeated UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov was, as he saw it, mere hours away from winning the interim lightweight title.
The Sambo sensation was to face fellow top contender Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 is what was being billed as one of the year’s biggest fights. The Dagestani’s eight fight UFC winning streak would face off against Ferguson’s nine in a row. The winner was to receive the division’s interim title but, more importantly than that, a direct path would be established between the victor and the division’s true champion Conor McGregor.
But then it all fell apart. Problem making the divisional weight limit of 155-pounds ahead of the official weigh-ins led to Khabib’s team seeking medical treatment at 4:30am on the morning he was scheduled to make weight. Worse still, the camp failed to notify the UFC — a move which drew considerable ire from the UFC brass.
Details are still emerging as to the extent of the problems suffered by Nurmagomedov as he attempted to cut weight. Speaking to Submission Radio, Luke Rockhold, a training partner of Nurmagomedov’s at American Kickboxing Academy, elaborated on what his teammate experienced in the lead-up to his ill-fated attempt to make weight.
“The weight cut wasn’t going very well,” Rockhold said “Khabib was complaining about a pain in the side and we had to cut short the weight cut, and sure enough, I guess it got worse overnight and he had to go the hospital.
“[It’s] unfortunate. That was the fight I was really looking forward to for Khabib and it’s been a long time working with that man and I know he’s put in the time and the effort and deserved it, so it just sucks.
“From what I understand he wasn’t getting any blood to his liver and something went wrong with the weight cut,” Rockhold continued. “It was very similar to his last fight from what I understand and just something went wrong. You never know with these weight cuts I guess. But I think he’s ready to go and we can rebook that thing.”
Whether or not the UFC will make moves to reschedule the bout remains to be seen. Clearly there is a hunger among fans to see Ferguson and Nurmagomedov square off but, with last weekend being the third time that a fight between the two has failed to materialise, Sean Shelby may opt to cut his losses and move on from this bout.
Another thing to consider is Khabib’s father’s comments last month that his son doesn’t have much longer left in the sport. Speaking to Life.ru, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov said: “I don’t want to upset any fans but Khabib is 28 years old and by 30 he has to finish his career. I’ve never voiced this opinion before, didn’t talk about it to anyone. But I’m afraid he’s got left 1.5 years.”
And now, these comments have been echoed by Javier Mendez who said, also to Submission Radio, that his fighter’s early retirement way be “potentially happening” if the fighter’s father gets his way.
“Being that his father, like I said, is a huge influence on him and if that’s what him and his father decide to do then that’s what will happen. And I support it if that’s what they want. But you know, time will tell, right?
“I mean, he first has to get that title and I think that’s a very important thing in his life, and I would think if his body is not 100 percent healthy and his mind is the way it’s always been, like wanting to be the best, then it may be longer than 30 because of the fact that things like this happen – delays, injuries, he gets injured, his opponent gets injured. But I see it potentially happening if that’s what they wish.”