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Khabib Nurmagomedov's last win over Justin Gaethje is even more impressive when you find out about his injuries

UFC 254: Khabib v Gaethje
UFC 254: Khabib v Gaethje
ANALYST
Modified 29 Dec 2020, 03:56 IST
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Retired UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov fought Justin Gaethje in UFC 254 while recovering from a broken toe.

In an interview with Match TV from Russia, the unbeaten UFC star remembered how tough it was to prepare for the bout with Gaethje. Nurmagomedov's father died three months ahead of the fight, besides the broken toe and a gruelling weight cut process.

"I have broken my toe. It was October 7th, two weeks before the fight. Before that, in mid-September, I got to the hospital - I was very sick, spent ten days there, five of them in intensive care," revealed Khabib Nurmagomedov. "I had a virus [mumps]. By the end of September, I started training. The training camp was very hard. And in the fight itself, I was with a broken toe."

Nurmagomedov broke his toe again in the fight with Gaethje. The victory came in the second round when the lightweight champion applied a triangle and sent the contender to sleep.

In that movement, according to Nurmagomedov, he applied too much pressure on his recovering injured toe and ended up breaking it again.

"At the end of the fight, I took Gaethje into a triangle, and it was this toe that got stuck in the cage - I broke it again. In the octagon, but I didn't feel it."

Khabib Nurmagomedov's coach Javier Mendez also has expressed his worries on how far that training camp pushed the champion. Nurmagomedov was healing from a bad case of mumps only two weeks ahead of the camp.

"This was the worst camp we have ever had in the sense of preparation. We were so unlucky. There was a mumps infection with many of the boys. He trained one week very lightly and then the following week broke his toe," revealed Mendez. "But Khabib said, 'Coach, my toe may be broken, but my mind is not.' That's when I knew that he was going to fight against all this adversity no matter what."

Is Khabib Nurmagomedov returning to the UFC?

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In the same interview with Match TV, the unbeaten UFC lightweight champion reemphasizes his previous statements that he has no interest in returning to fight MMA professionally.

Khabib Nurmagomedov revealed that the UFC keeps trying to persuade him to return, offering conditions and fighters that the grappling master could be interested in facing.

But Nurmagomedov does not feel motivated enough to fight anyone that currently competes in the promotion. Although he recognizes that Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Islam Makhachev are in superb form, Nurmagomedov would rather stay retired.

"Perhaps [I could return to fight] Muhammad Ali. But, unfortunately, he is no longer with us," said Khabib Nurmagomedov. "[UFC president] Dana White and I are constantly in touch. The organization really wants me to resume my career. They offer conditions, fighters - but they have no one that makes me interested. Soon, in a couple of weeks, we will meet with Dana and discuss."

Khabib Nurmagomedov and White are set to meet next month in Abu Dhabi. While many hope that the meeting indicates a possible comeback from the retired champion, everything Nurmagomedov says seems to show the opposite.

Do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to the UFC? Sound off in the comments.

Published 29 Dec 2020, 03:56 IST
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