The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s card for UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, suffered a major setback when lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov was scratched from his interim title bout against Tony Ferguson a day before the fight.
Having a difficult time making the weight cut, Nurmagomedov was rushed to the hospital, and under advisement from their medical staff, the UFC pulled him from the championship fight and elevated the Lando Vannata-David Teymur fight to the co-main event of the evening.
“He went in, and I guess he was having pains either where your kidneys are or the liver,” UFC president Dana White said. “I don’t know the exact specifics, but he was having pains, and I’m sure you guys have seen the picture. He looked terrible.
“I don’t think there was any real damage done. When I say damage, I mean long term. I’m sure it’s going to take him a little while to recover from this weight cut, but he would’ve been handled a lot better if he would’ve contacted Brianna or Dr. Davidson because Ali told me their experience at Sunrise was horrible.”
Following the main card of UFC 209, when White addressed questions from the media, he expressed frustration with Nurmagomedov for not following protocols in place by the world’s foremost mixed martial arts organization.
“He should’ve been with Doc D.,” White said. “Doc D. would’ve gotten him right in. They would’ve checked his vitals. They would’ve seen where he was, but when you just walk into some random hospital in Las Vegas and they seem in a weight cut, they just fill him full of fluids.
“That’s immediately what they do. They bring you in, they stick you with an IV. Doc D. would’ve brought him in, checked his vitals, seen where he was. I’m not saying the fight could’ve been saved, but maybe it could’ve. We’ve been in these situations before. This isn’t our first rodeo.”
Because of the cancellation of the bout, Ferguson was scrapped from the card, and although the lightweight contender is on a nine-fight winning streak in the UFC, White is unsure of what to do with the lightweight division, whose champion, Conor McGregor, is on a hiatus awaiting the birth of his first child.
“He was devastated,” White said of Ferguson. “He came over to our offices. He was as bad as anyone I’ve ever seen after a fight pulls out, so we’re just giving him time to you know (decompress). To be honest with you, Khabib fought in New York in November, and then, here with back-to-back weight cuts.
“I don’t know if he can make the weight, or if he needs a better plan, a dietian, got down to within six pounds and was in really rough shape. He’s going to have to take some time to recover from this weight cut, and then, I don’t know what to do.”