While it’s hard to find anyone willing to complain about the UFC’s recently announced Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller matchup, some fans did immediately wonder where that left Khabib Nurmagomedov.
After all, wasn’t “The Eagle” deserving of a big fight?
MMAjunkie has learned that UFC officials did indeed plan a big fight for the undefeated 25-year-old grappler, but that Nurmagomedov had to withdraw his name from consideration.
Sources close to the promotion who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss such matter publicly told MMAjunkie that UFC officials were hoping to book Cerrone vs. Nurmagomedov for UFC Fight Night 45, which takes place July 16 at Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. However, when reps from the fighter’s management team were approached about the potential date, they were forced to decline before even learning about the matchup.
“We were never offered an opponent but were just asked to fight on that date,” Mike Constantino of MVC Sports Management told MMAjunkie. “At that time, I informed the UFC that it was Ramadan and that Khabib would be unavailable.”
Nurmagomedov is a Dagestani-born fighter who began training in martial arts at the age of 5. He’s also a practicing Muslim who observes an annual month of fasting known as Ramadan. During the observance, which takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims refrain from consuming any food or liquids from dawn until sunset each day, making the rigors of training camp, not to mention weight-cutting or an actual fight, nearly impossible.
Constantino said Nurmagomedov will immediately resume a full training regimen after Ramadan, which this year runs from June 28 to July 28. With that in mind, Constantino said his client would be ready to go in “late August or early September” and is happy to fight “whoever is put in front of him to get a title shot the fastest.”
As an interesting side note, MMAjunkie has also learned that prior to Nurmagomedov being ruled out of the July 16 date, UFC officials had also considered pairing Nurmagomedov with Jim Miller while pitting Cerrone against Nate Diaz in a rematch of their December 2011 meeting, which “Cowboy” has expressed an interest in revisiting. However, a source close to the promotion said Diaz didn’t respond to several attempts to reach him directly and was then ruled out of the contest, leaving UFC officials to consider Cerrone vs. Nurmagomedov.