News broke out last week that Khabib Nurmagomedov, long seen as one of the very best mixed martial artists at 155 pounds, would no longer be making his relatively long-awaited return to the ring this December.
Scheduled to face Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale on Dec. 11 in Las Vegas, Nurmagomedov revealed he’d suffered a broken rib during preparations. It would have been his first fight since April 2014, when “The Eagle” defeated now-champion Rafael dos Anjos in a unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 11.
This is the latest in a string of injuries that has kept the top-flight lightweight from completing the last leg in the journey toward a title shot in the UFC. He’d previously suffered a pair of knee injuries that forced him to sit on the shelf.
What was even more surprising, however, was the fact that Nurmagomedov — undefeated through 22 professional bouts and just 27 years old — was contemplating retirement, saying he wasn’t sure if he’d ever make it back inside the Octagon. If nothing else, he doesn’t think he deserves to be criticized for this.
“I want to tell you that over the last week I have received on social networks about 100,000 messages from different corners of the world,” Nurmagomedov wrote in a caption on Instagram. “Some were unhappy with me, and some who supported me. Thanks to all who have supported and continue to do so for the last two years. You have to understand I’m not made of iron, and I am the same person as you all are.”
Currently the No. 3 contender in the UFC’s lightweight division, Nurmagomedov is believed to be one or two victories away from securing a title shot inside the Octagon.