A mere 20 minutes after signing on for a blockbuster UFC 178 bout with Donald Cerrone last Friday, No. 4-ranked UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov saw his biggest fight ever disappear before it started, blowing out his knee and forcing him to the sidelines for the time being.

While UFC President said that “The Eagle” had “blown out his knee,” news comes today that while Nurmagomedov’s injury will require surgery, he did not tear his ACL or any of the major ligaments in his knee.

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According to a report from MMA Fighting, Nurmagomedov’s manager Mike Constantinos confirmed that “The Eagle” will undergo surgery to fix a torn meniscus in his right knee, an injury that will keep him out of action roughly until January.

No replacement opponent has been named for the surging Cerrone on the stacked Sept. 27 card from Las Vegas. “Cowboy” has upped his game in 2014, finishing Adriano Martins, Edson Barboza, and most recently Jim Miller in destructive fashion. With many of the top lightweights booked in high-profile fights, Nurmagomedov truly was the opponent that could have pushed him over the edge to title contention.

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The Combat Sambo Champion, who was last seen handing No. 6-ranked Rafael dos Anjos (who beat Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 27 last August) a one-sided decision loss at April 19’s UFC on FOX 11 from Orlando. “The Eagle” has displayed some of the most stifling grappling the UFC 155-pound division has ever seen. With five straight wins, he’s also knocking on the door of a title shot when he returns back to the Octagon.

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Good thing the belt is still on hold until December 6 at the earliest, meaning that either one of these fighters could potentially get the next championship bout depending on what transpires in UFC 181’s headliner between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez.

If that ends up being the case, which one do you think is more deserving?

Photo: David Manning for USA TODAY Sports