Sunday, August 7, 2022

Rodriguez Reacts To Zabit’s Retirement, “Sad” They Never Fought

UFC featherweight contender Yair Rodriguez has wished Zabit Magomedsharipov well in his retirement but admitted ‘sadness’ at the fact they’ll now never share the Octagon.

After a lengthy period of uncertainty and absence, Zabit recently provided an update on his future that was no doubt disappointing for fans of the sport. At 18-1 and with wins over Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar, the Russian was being singled out as a future champion by many.

But after rumors of health issues and a potential religious conflict affecting his desire to fight, the 31-year-old confirmed the fears of most last month when he officially announced his retirement from mixed martial arts.

While many in the featherweight division will perhaps be thankful at the absence of an elite contender towards the top of the ladder, the #3-ranked contender has been left wondering what could have been with regards to their long-planned matchup.

Rodriguez: There Was A Lot Said Between Zabit & I

Initially, Rodriguez rejected a fight with Zabit back in 2018, leading to a brief three-week release from the promotion. The 145-pound duo were then scheduled to share the cage multiple times, with the Mexican being forced out through multiple injuries.

Shortly after his scheduled bout with the Dagestani at UFC Vegas 8 fell through, Rodriguez was handed a six-month suspension for failing to notify USADA of his whereabouts and being unavailable for testing.

While he’s now returned and showing a high level of activity, the other side of the seemingly cursed matchup has left the sport. And while Rodriguez did wish his former featherweight peer well in retirement, he’s “sad” to have not had the opportunity to throw down with him.

“Well, I thought he was already retired. So, I wasn’t surprised when I hear like, he officially retired… It’s sad that we never get to fight each other,” Rodriguez said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “There was a lot of things between him and I that was said.

“But I don’t have any bad feelings towards the guy. I wish him the best. I hope he’s healthy. I hope everything’s going well in his life,” Rodriguez added. “It’s just sad that we never got to settle what we have.”

While Zabit looks ahead to a venture outside of the Octagon, perhaps in the medical field judging by a past Instagram post, Rodriguez still firmly has his eyes set on the featherweight gold.

He’ll have the chance to move closer to that goal this weekend when he headlines UFC Long Island opposite Brian Ortega, where he believes a win will see him challenge Alexander Volkanovski’s reign next.

How do you think a fight between Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov would have played out?

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