Khabib Nurmagomedov has assured fans that his weight is where it needs to be with UFC 219 and his mouth-watering clash with Edson Barboza looming.
Nurmagomedov was famously hospitalized due to complications with an attempted cut to 155lbs a matter of hours before he was scheduled to face Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209 back in March and the highly-anticipated bout was subsequently scrapped on the recommendations of a doctor at the Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas.
The undefeated Russian later claimed that he “almost died” during the dicey cut.
Nurmagomedov had previously missed weight ahead of a fight with Abel Trujillo at UFC 160 in May of 2013, coming in at 158.5lbs and forfeiting a percentage of his purse as a result.
Given his turbulent history with the scales then, it’s no surprise that Nurmagomedov’s weight has been the subject of quite a bit of chatter in recent weeks. Initially, the reports were positive, with MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani relaying a claim from Khabib’s team that the fighter was significantly lighter six weeks out than he would normally be at that point in a camp.
44 days before UFC 219, @TeamKhabib weighs in the 170s, his team tells me. Usually at this point he weighs around 188, they said.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 16, 2017
However, during an appearance on the Big Brown Breakdown last week, Nurmagomedov’s American Kickboxing Academy teammate Josh Thomson claimed that ‘The Eagle’ was still up over 180lbs and had come into camp north of 190.
“Who cuts a ton of weight at 155? My boy, Khabib. Khabib cuts a shitload of weight. 195 three weeks ago, or 191 when he showed up in camp,” said Thomson. “Now he’s down to 182, 183.”
“[Walking into the octagon he is] probably [185lbs], ’82, somewhere around there,” added Thomson.
During a recent online Q&A however, Nurmagomedov claimed that he had just 15lbs left to cut two weeks ahead of the fight
“I weighed this morning, 15lbs [left to cut].” said Nurmagomedov. “14 days or two weeks to weigh-in, I think it’s good. Seven kilograms, not bad.
“Don’t believe everything you hear from internet,” added Khabib.
“Honestly, I am very excited before the fight. After the last incident, when I couldn’t perform on UFC 209, there is too much talking about my weight. All this motivates me.”
Moving away from the topic of his weight, Nurmagomedov also addressed some of the recent goings on elsewhere in the lightweight division. While everybody else was thoroughly entertained by former champion Eddie Alvarez’s Donnybrook with fellow war monger Justin Gaethje at UFC 218, Nurmagomedov wasn’t at all impressed.
“They fought like two alcoholics,” said the 29-year-old. “And now Alvarez thinks he is back. But what is he going to do with his loss to Conor McGregor, which disgraced him for the rest of his life? How will he erase it? The losses cannot be removed.”
When asked later about improvements in his own stand-up game, Nurmagomedov attacked Alvarez and Gaethje once again.
“I am okay with my striking, I have sparred with my brothers,” he said. “I haven’t showed half of my striking in my fights, because striking is a big risk – you can miss just one shot and fall down. You have to be very careful. I know that I can out-wrestle all of my opponents. Why I have to box with them? Victory is more important for me, when the referee raises my hand.
“Some fighters want only to show entertaining fight – like Alvarez and Gaethje. But it’s unprofessional. It’s like two alcoholics started to fight at a bar. I don’t consider it a professional fight. Yes, it is a little exciting and entertaining, but as fighters I didn’t like them, because they don’t think about their future. You can’t take 50 or more significant strikes to your head and then live like a normal person. You have to take care of your brain.”
Speaking about his own future beyond UFC 219, Nurmagomedov indicated that he is targeting Tony Ferguson once again. Despite the fact that Ferguson, an interim lightweight titist, recently suggested that he expects a unification fight with champion Conor McGregor in the spring of 2018, Nurmagomedov claimed that he has already spoken to the UFC about a potential clash with the Californian in March or April.
“The perfect conclusion will be after the fight – we have spoken to the UFC – if I win, I will fight Tony Ferguson in March/April,” said Khabib.
Nurmagomedov vs. Barboza is the co-main event of UFC 219, which takes place on December 30th in Las Vegas. Nurmagomedov, who has a perfect record of 24-0 and is 8-0 in the UFC, is currently ranked second in the promotion’s official lightweight rankings. Barboza, who has won three straight fights since a submission defeat to Ferguson in December of 2015, currently sits two places behind him in fourth.