The most grueling aspect of mixed martial arts is, without a doubt, when the two fighters throw down inside the Octagon. But, outside of the cage, fighters must undergo a weight cutting process which, in some cases, is more dangerous than the combat itself.
Nurmagomedov, a 24-0, undefeated fighter hailing from Dagestan, was expected to square off against Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title but was forced to withdraw from the bout after failing to make the 155-pound weight limit.
Nurmagomedov was admitted to a local hospital just two hours before Friday morning's weigh-ins, but 'The Eagle' says his body started to shut down on Thursday evening.
“In the evening, I feel badly. I feel different. I never feel like this,” Nurmagomedov told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour (h/t Shaun Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting) “One day before weigh-in, of course I don’t feel good all the time, but I think this is like something different. And when I go home the night before weigh-ins, I feel crazy. I’m cutting weight with my team, and I don’t remember how I cut weight. I don’t remember a lot of things, something going wrong.
“I feel so bad. I never feel like this.”
Nurmagomedov was determined to fight — UFC 209 was the biggest event and biggest payday of his career — but the doctor told him that he would die if he left the hospital and tried to continue cutting weight.
“The doctor say, ‘you cannot fight. You almost die. How you fight? How you can fight if you almost die? ... No way. We say no fight, 100 percent. No make weight. No fight. No nothing. You need to stay in the hospital for seven hours, we have to make sure your body is good.’ But I feel I almost died,” Nurmagomedov said.
“We know a lot of times when you’re cutting weight, you can die. I know one month ago somebody died in Brazil. Before, somebody died in Japan. We know sometimes this happens. But this can happen with me too. If we still cutting weight, and we still force my body, maybe I can die too?"
Although Nurmagomedov almost died during the weight cut, the 28-year-old is determined to make the cut to 155 lbs. in the future and says the problem stems from a stomach issue which he hopes to resolve in Germany.
“I’m just coming from Germany. I need like three or five months to make my body the same, three or five months of rehab. And obviously I’m going to Germany, I’m going to fix everything. This problem, this is not about cutting weight. This is about my health, and I have to [fix] my health in three or five months, and I’m going to come back.
Nurmagomedov apologized to the fans on Saturday and admitted that the UFC 209 fiasco was '100 percent' his fault.
The No. 1 ranked lightweight contender hopes to return to competition in September after he has diagnosed and fixed his health problems in Germany.
"I think I can fight end of September," he said.
“In Germany I’m going to check my body, what happened, everything,” Nurmagomedov added. “And I have a little bit of a problem with something, but I don’t want to talk about this. But I need a couple months to fix everything.”