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03rd Apr 2017

Khabib Nurmagomedov finally owns up to ruining one of the greatest match-ups ever

His first interview in English since the controversy

Ben Kiely

The timing of these comments from Khabib Nurmagomedov is very convenient.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has a huge following, but the debacle of UFC 209 certainly saw him lose more than a few of them, while the stock of his scheduled opponent Tony Ferguson only rose.

Stylistically, the interim lightweight title fight was an absolute dream. Both fighters are two of the most talented and unique martial artists in the world. Well-rounded, unorthodox, dangerous, but in completely different ways.

Nurmagomedov’s grappling is undoubtedly his most effective weapon, but his unusual striking game can cause problems for anyone and can also be implemented to set up that lethal ground game. Whereas ‘El Cucuy’s free-form jazz style coupled with his incredible striking and grappling skills mean that you couldn’t really write him off against anyone, even someone who has never been beaten before.

On the third time of asking, this fantasy match-up actually looked like it was going to materialise, then on Fight Night, it was scrapped when Nurmagomedov failed to make weight.

Although ‘The Eagle’ released a very brief statement on Instagram following his withdrawal, he didn’t reveal an awful lot about the botched cut himself. All the information we received was either from his manager Ali Abdelaziz or other sources. He finally shed some more light on it during a recent interview with Russia Today

“You know I don’t remember a lot of things, to be honest. Last night (before weigh in) and I know – I am going to a hospital, I feel bad. I know that a lot of fans are upset with me about this and I agree with this guys. Because this is one of the biggest fights in Russian MMA. for me, I can make history but I am going to the hospital you know.”

“But sometimes this happens, sometimes you can die, you know. Everybody can die, everybody can (get) sick. Now I need a couple of months. Like two or three months. After three months I come for hard training and I want to fight in September.”

His manager recently revealed Nurmagomedov’s plans to return to the Octagon for a title fight in August or September. However, those reports on what he was eating in the lead-up to the fight must have left a bitter taste in fans’ mouths as the majority took issue with him looking for championship bout straight off the bat.

In what feels a bit like a PR move to rectify this, Nurmagomedov has admitted he was at fault for the fight falling through.

“I think this is my fault, this is my fault. I know that (my) body don’t listen to me and I think, I know, this is my fault. How can I say that this is the coach’s fault or the diet guy’s fault? This is 100% my fault.”