While Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last-minute withdrawal from UFC 209 was certainly a surprising move, UFC President Dana White was very open about the fact that he believes Nurmagomedov’s team could have saved the fight had they not gone “rogue” when their fighter began feeling ill.
Despite that, Nurmagomedov’s manager recently shed light on the matter, saying that he attempted to call UFC President Dana White, as he usually does when things go wrong with a fighter he manages, however the UFC President was unable to be reached at 4am when Nurmagomedov fell ill.
Now, fellow UFC lightweight Kevin Lee believes that the situation comes down to Nurmagomedov wanting to keep his unbeaten streak in tact. He spoke to BloodyElbow:
“I think he’s got a really smart manager. I know Ali really well. He’s smart; they’re trying to keep that ‘0’ intact. That’s all they’re looking forward to. To me, there’s no other reason. It was like 4:00 A.M. or something when they took him to the hospital. If that’s the case, then he cut weight the night before, and woke up and wasn’t feeling good, or had kidney malfunction or something. Which means that he’s just being unprofessional, which I can’t see why somebody at this level would be unprofessional.”
“It’s disrespectful. Maybe he did have something going on. Maybe he did have something wrong, but when it’s this big, when it gets to that level, yeah I can understand self preservation. You don’t want that loss, but be a man, you know? You got to go out there. Okay, if you don’t win, you don’t win. You dust yourself off, you get better, you learn from it. He’s just trying to hold on to that ‘0.’ That’s the only way I see it.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/8/2017.