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Nurmagomedov out of TUF 22 finale with injured rib, not sure if he’ll ever come back

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Disappointment is nothing new in the world of mixed martial arts. Whether you fall victim to the inevitable pre-fight hype that accompanies every event or not, fans have learned not to hold their breath for any one fight.

That’s why, though really bummed out about it, many weren’t all that surprised to hear Khabib Nurmagomedov is out of his December matchup with Tony Ferguson due to a broken rib.
This marks the third in a string of career-sidelining injuries for Nurmagomedov; he’s twice now been scheduled to fight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, only to pull out of both events due to various knee injuries.

Now, more than a year and a half removed from his last fight (a unanimous decision win over current lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos), the injury bug has struck Nurmagomedov yet again.
Aside from losing out on what was sure to be a slobber-knocker of a fight between Ferguson and the man from Dagestan, Nurmagomedov’s injury is disconcerting for many reasons.

With his last fight more than 18 months in the rear view mirror, it’s likely that at least two years will have passed before we get to see the World Combat Sambo champion in action again.

Though still just 27 years old, fans are missing out on the peak years of Nurmagomedov’s career; the cautionary tale of one TJ Grant is evidence enough of how seemingly innocuous injuries can become life altering events that have serious implications for fighter’s careers.

Aside from the time lost, Khabib had an incredible head of steam going into his previous three cancelled engagements. With a dominant win over the current champ already under his belt, many were eager to see Nurmagomedov in a title fight as early as the end of last year.

All that energy is now lost. Whether fans are sympathetic to the plight of a young Russian wrestler or not is another story, but the amount of momentum that Nurmagomedov has lost is incomparable.

That’s not to say he’ll have to pick up from square one again upon his return; Khabib is still undefeated at 22-0 (6-0 UFC) and still holds the record for most takedowns in a single three-round fight.

His success is what makes it so hard to see Nurmagomedov crippled with injuries time and again. With no amount of hyperbole, we may very well be missing out on watching the best lightweight fighter on planet earth during the prime of his career.

What’s worse is Nurmagomedov’s reaction to the rib injury. In a recent Instagram post, the Dagestani wondered aloud whether or not he’ll even come back to the sport. “…Again I am out of the fight. I really wanted to come back, I’m not sure if I will ever come back.”

While that’s surely the disappointment talking, it’s hard to look past the apathy Khabib has towards his own return. And can you blame him? Consistently ranked in the top three by most major publications, Nurmagomedov has had to lay witness to his own demise over the last year.

Looking ahead, I’m sure Khabib will be back; he’s just too talented not to. On top of that, Nurmagomedov just inked an exclusive partnership with UFC apparel partner Reebok, the first for any Russian born fighter under contract.

There’s still a lot for “The Eagle” to accomplish in the sport, and it’s not crazy to think he could one day be a UFC champion. The only problem is if he can stay healthy long enough to make it happen.

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