‘We Almost Canceled the Fight’ – Khabib Nurmagomedov Talks About His Hard Fight Camp for Justin Gaethje

Published 02/21/2021, 9:42 AM EST
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia celebrates his victory over Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has revealed that he suffered a severe case of mumps before his fight against Justin Gaethje. Khabib fought Gaethje at UFC 254 and beat him to keep his Lightweight belt to stay undefeated at 29-0.

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He talked to the MMAGA show, a Russian podcast, in an interview uploaded on YouTube. They translated the entire text from Russian and provided subtitles.

Photo: Khabib’s mumps had his face badly swollen before UFC 254 https://t.co/LmYyGnrur3

— Anton Tabuena (@antontabuena) February 20, 2021

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Khabib showed an image of himself in the interview just before the fight, and his face was immensely swelled up. He said that he had to go to a hospital where they put him in intensive care for five days. “Well, we even wanted to cancel the fight. I was having so much with this fight, the disease, and fractures,” Khabib said.

He repeated that it was a hard camp for him and said, “At the end of the day, we’ve decided to keep the fight on. It was a hard camp.” All of this was also coupled with the sorrow of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, passing away in July, making it extremely hard for Khabib to focus on the fight.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje: The last fight in the UFC for ‘The Eagle’?

The fight itself wasn’t close. Khabib bounced back from all the hardships and looked his usual self when he dominated Gaethje and finished him in the second round via a choke. It was a statement win that extended Khabib’s unbeaten run to 29.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia reacts after his submission victory over Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020, on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.)

He was extremely emotional after the fight and said that it was all too hard for him. Khabib announced his retirement and was emotional throughout the post-fight interview. He justified his retirement, saying that he told his mother that he couldn’t do it.

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More than six months down the line, it seems like a comeback might be possible after Khabib revealed that he met Dana White and talked to him about the future of the lightweight division. While he does maintain that the division must go on, he has also said that he will come in for something that he finds interesting. If he does come back, it will be a fight to watch.

Do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov will comeback? If he does, who do you think should fight him?

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Aniket Awasthi

153 articles

Aniket Awasthi is a UFC author at EssentiallySports. This STEM undergraduate combines an insatiable urge to write with his admiration for MMA and the UFC in general to enhance his journalism. He calls charismatic names like Chael Sonnen and 'The Count' Michael Bisping as his favorite fighters, but he is a great admirer of the rise of Israel Adesanya ever since he fought Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221.

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