MMA journalist Ariel Helwani has discussed what he’s heard about UFC featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov’s ongoing absence from the Octagon.
Entering 2020, Zabit was ranked #3 in the 145-pound division and unbeaten in six fights on MMA’s biggest stage. En route to title contention, the Dagestani increased his professional record to 18-1 with victories over Sheymon Moraes and Brandon Davis, as well as a war with Kyle Bochniak and a successful main event debut opposite current top-five contender Calvin Kattar.
As it seems, that may have been all she wrote.
Now two-and-a-half years on from his last appearance in the cage and fans are still none the wiser on Zabit’s status. After another attempt to book him against Yair Rodriguez in August 2020 fell through, talk of the 31-year-old went dark. He was taken out of the rankings for inactivity last April.
While it’s previously been reported that a health issue related to his immune system has kept Zabit on the sidelines, Helwani revealed a different rumor he’d heard regarding the Russian’s lengthy layoff on the latest edition of The MMA Hour.
During UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski‘s appearance on the show, the Aussie and Helwani discussed what the latter described as perhaps the biggest “what if” in UFC history.
Pondering the reason for Zabit’s absence, Helwani noted that he’d been told a “moral religious dilemma” may have played a part.
“The biggest what-if of them all, maybe the greatest what-ifs in UFC history is Zabit… He just disappeared. I’ve asked around… I don’t know if he is (coming back),” said Helwani. “From what I was told, he had like, almost like this moral religious dilemma that he was dealing with. He’s very religious, and I think he reached a point where he just didn’t wanna do it anymore.
“His brother fights, and he corners his brother, which I think is really interesting, but obviously everybody’s different. But that’s what I heard. He just reached a point where he was like, ‘No, this is’t for me.’ He might go down as one of the biggest what-ifs in UFC history because it looked like the ceiling was so high,” concluded Helwani.
Interestingly, Coach Mark Henry appeared to announce the comeback of “Za-Beast” last September in an Instagram post. However, since then, there’s been little update on any impending return.
Should the Dagestani get over whatever issues or debates that are keeping him outside the cage and return to UFC action, he’ll be jumping into the mix of a stacked featherweight division.
Would you like to see Zabit Magomedsharipov return to the UFC soon?