UFC bantamweight prospect Umar Nurmagomedov has described his frustration at the struggle to remain active early into his Octagon career.
Following an emphatic first-round submission victory over promotional veteran Brian Kelleher at UFC 272 earlier this year, the Russian is making a quick three-month turnaround to share the cage with Nate Maness tonight.
But Nurmagomedov’s desire to fight often and rise up the bantamweight ladder fast hasn’t been possible up to now. The undefeated 26-year-old signed with the UFC back in February 2020, just one month before the COVID-19 pandemic began to cause havoc across the globe.
After canceled matchups with Hunter Azure, Nathaniel Wood, and Sergey Morozov, it took 11 months for Nurmagomedov to finally announce his arrival. He did so in a re-arranged bout with Morozov, whom he submitted in round two.
After requiring cruciate ligament surgery soon after, the highly touted 135-pound prospect was left on the sidelines for over a year before returning against Kelleher.
During his appearance at UFC Vegas 57 media day on Wednesday, Nurmagomedov described the difficult period. But while he admitted that his inability to fight regularly was irritating, the AKA product said he didn’t let the layoffs go to waste.
“It was really frustrating. I got signed to the UFC, then did my debut, and then for a long time I couldn’t fight. It was very frustrating, but it’s part of the sport,” said Nurmagomedov. “These things happen. When you train hard, injuries are part of the sport.
“But one thing that is different with me, is I don’t take time off. Even when I was injured, I was trying to do something, two training (sessions) every day, at least go show up, learn something new,” Nurmagomedov added. “When I got signed, I did my debut and it was COVID, it was bunch of other reasons, the injury, but I never let myself down. I kept training, and it is what it is.”
Nurmagomedov Plans On High Activity
Now, as he prepares for his first quick turnaround, Nurmagomedov says this level of activity is the plan moving forward.
After announcing his intention to fit two more fights into 2022 following his date with Maness tonight, the surging 26-year-old confirmed that he’ll be looking to feature in four fights every year, providing he can remain injury-free, of course.
“I hope I will be fighting two more times in this year, I hope,” said Nurmagomedov. “I think if you don’t have injuries, why not (four fights a year)? You can do this.”
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