No. 3-ranked UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov recently saw what would have been the biggest bout of his career disappear when a knee injury forced him out of his freshly proposed UFC 178 tilt with No. 4 Donald Cerrone.
“The Eagle” is planning to step back into the cage in early 2015. But that doesn’t mean that he’s going to let the time off spoil his discipline. Speaking to Russian site prosports.ru, the devout Sunni Muslim detailed his view that American fighters drink and socialize too much, something that is their undoing:
“There are fighters in America who can drink on Friday and Saturday. After an event I saw it myself in the hotel – 80% of them are already drunk. Not the champs but middle-of-the-pack guys, guys like one win, two losses.
A couple of times they called me with them to the club. I told them I’m a Muslim. And they were like ‘Come on, we know two Muslims and they visit the clubs with us all the time!’ I have tried to explain them, that a Muslim is not ideal but Islam is. Alcohol and girls stand in a way of an athlete, they spoil him and make him weak.”
Perhaps Nurmagomedov’s abstinence from alcohol and women is part of the reason for his success, as he boasts an impressive 22-0 record with six straight wins in UFC. His most recent victory was a solid three round decision over No. 5 contender Rafael dos Anjos at April 19’s UFC on FOX 11 from Orlando, Florida.
The Dagestani grappling champion has never been in trouble in the Octagon, and he’s knocking on the door of a title shot in the talented UFC 155-pound division.
However, he’ll have much to prove when he returns from knee surgery given a style that largely depends on lifting his opponent up in the air and slamming them to the canvas.
Will “The Eagle” soar in 2015, or will his recent setback keep him grounded for the time being?
Photos: David Manning for USA TODAY Sports