No. 12-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight, Damir Ismagulov, has retired from professional mixed martial arts (MMA) competition at the age of 31.
Ismagulov made the announcement on Instagram, writing “Unfortunately, due to circumstances and health problems, I am forced to end my sports career. Thanks to all those who were with me regardless of the outcome in the battles, who were sincerely sick and worried. It was an interesting journey, a moment to remember. (Give) everyone a hug.”
He did not expand further on what specific health issues had compelled him to retire.
Ismagulov built up a 24-2 record in MMA with a 5-1 run in UFC. His last fight for the promotion was in UFC Vegas 66’s co-main event on Dec. 17, 2022. The Kazakh fighter lost a hard-fought decision to Arman Tsarukyan.
Ismagulov spent a good chunk of his early career fighting in M-1, becoming the promotion’s Lightweight champion in 2017 and defending it twice before entering into UFC in 2018. His first fight against Alex Gorgees was a dominating affair with Damir earning 30–25, 30–26, and 30–26 scores. He blanked opponents Joel Alvarez and Thiago Moises on the scorecards in his next two fights before facing tougher challenges against Rafael Alves and Guram Kutateladze.
It’s always unfortunate to see a promising MMA career cut short.
Ismagulov joins Askar Askarov and Zabit Magomedsharipov as talented fighters whose careers were derailed because of unspecified medical issues (although recently there has been some suggestions Zabit may return some day). Obviously, health must come first, but we can hope that Damir recovers to the point where he can get back to his craft. It was always a pleasure watching him in the cage.