Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje Title Fight Was Almost Canceled Due to ‘The Eagle’s Injury

Published 07/14/2021, 6:30 AM EDT


Khabib Nurmagomedov shocked the world in October 2020, when he announced that he would not be fighting anymore. Going into the fight, there was a strong feeling among fans and pundits alike that this might be one of the last times we see ‘The Eagle’ step into a UFC octagon. This was because his father had just passed away and Nurmagomedov had always been vocal about wanting to retire undefeated at 30-0.

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However, after his win over Gaethje, details about how tough fight camp had been for him started to emerge. Mumps, fractures, and the loss of his father and long-time trainer are things ‘The Eagle’ had to overcome in order to beat Justin Gaethje. 

In a recent interview with Brett Okamoto, Nurmagomedov revealed that the fight was close to being canceled. He said, “I put on my mind, this is my last fight since August… all this month I was preparing for my last fight…. Media don’t know about this, but coach tell me, Monday you’re going to spar, if your performance going to be bad, we’re going to cancel the fight…. We have to cancel because I don’t think you’re (Nurmagomedov) ready. It was Saturday, and I was feeling very bad. Broken foot, my health was not good.”

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‘The Eagle’ continued, “And Monday my performance was okay. I do only two rounds. Coach say okay. I said let’s go tomorrow, he said tomorrow is not sparring day. I said I just want to spar tomorrow too….. The next day I show him my best performance. And coach change opponents every round…. Then he say okay, tomorrow is real sparring day. We’re going to spar for five rounds and we’re going to make the decision. I said, coach I think I am ready. It’s okay even if I have a broken foot”

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Fight against Justin Gaethje, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s best performance to date?

During fight week, ‘The Eagle’ was stoic. It did not appear that losing his father had affected him that much. However, his reaction after winning the fight showed how much pressure and emotions he had bottled up inside him in order to get to the octagon. 

Given all the details we now know about what went on in the build-up to the event, the fight against Gaethje has to be his most impressive win to date considering how easily ‘The Eagle’ beat ‘The Highlight’.

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What do you make of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC 254 showing after realizing the struggles he went through?

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Kevin Binoy

1035 articles

Kevin Binoy is an MMA author at EssentiallySports. He earned a Bachelor's degree from Fergusson College and has been covering sports professionally for over two years. Besides working with the MMA writing team, Kevin is a core member of the organization's web stories team and is responsible for delivering engaging MMA web stories.

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