Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced out of his scheduled interim Lightweight title fight against Tony Ferguson — which was set to go down at UFC 209 on March 4, 2017 — at the eleventh hour due to what many perceived to be weight-cutting issues.
It’s something “The Eagle” admits is all on his shoulders.
But, one thing Nurmagomedov wanted to make clear is that his issues aren’t about cutting down to 155 pounds — something he has done throughout his entire career — but rather something going on with his overall health.
“I don’t think I was cutting too much weight. I make 155 against Michael Johnson and I feel very good. I make weight before, no problem,” Nurmagomedov said during a recent interview on “The MMA Hour.” “After March 3, I can’t make weight because this is not about diet. I think this is about my health.”
According to Nurmagomedov, he was recently in Germany to see a doctor and was informed of the issues plaguing him ... though he opted to not disclose them.
“I just came from Germany and I need like three or five months to make my body the same. This week I am going to Germany and fix everything. This is not about cutting weight, it’s about my health. I have to make rehab for three or five months and I think I can fight in September.”
Still, Nurmagomedov wanted to take the opportunity to apologize yet again to fight fans who were disappointed that his match against Ferguson was canceled.
“I know a lot of people are upset about his, a lot of fans are upset about this because this is very big fight. A lot of people working for this fight, I know they are upset and I want to say sorry about everything. But I come back, I am going to come back, I feel different motivation everything. I am going to check my weight, check and fix my body and I know for sure I am going to come back.”
As far as Dana White’s comments accusing Team Khabib of going “rogue” and not communicating with UFC officials and doctors, he doesn’t take it personal.
“Dana, I know he upset. This was a big fight, but he supports me. He call me after. When I had ACL, when I broke my ribs, all the time Dana still support me. So I want to say thank you to him. I know sometime he go crazy when people pull out, but I understand. I am professional fighter, I have to make weight, this is my job but sometimes you can not control your body,” he added.
Regarding a potential move up to Welterweight, Nurmagomedov says that is out of the question — barring a big-money fight — since making weight is not an issue.
“No, I will never fight at 170. I can make weight. I make 155 all my career, all my amateur career. I make it all the time. Of course, I think about 170 super fight, but I want to say I never fight at 170. never, I know this and I will only fight at 155. I want to show world I can become UFC lightweight champion. This is my motivation,” he concluded.
For the record, Khabib has only missed wight on one occasion, coming in heavy on the scale against Abel Trujillo in 2013. As for those retirement rumors, Nurmagomedov says no one in his camp is persuading him to do so, and hanging up his gloves is not in his near future.
Anyone expect to see a refreshed, more healthy Khabib if he does make his UFC return later this year?