It’s third time unlucky for Russian bantamweight Umar Nurmagomedov, with his latest attempt to make his UFC debut nixed by illness less than one week from fight night in Abu Dhabi.
Nurmagomedov (12-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) was all set to make his octagon debut against former M-1 Global bantamweight champion Sergei Morozov (16-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who was also set for his UFC bow, at UFC 254, which takes place Saturday at Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The event streams live on pay per view following prelims on ESPN+ and ESPN2.
It was initially reported by Russian news agency TASS that Nurmagomedov had been hospitalized with “severe flu, fever and vomiting,” but it was subsequently confirmed by Nurmagomedov’s cousin and teammate, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, that the bantamweight’s symptoms were as a result of a staph infection that left his cousin hospitalized in Dubai.
Posting to his Instagram page, Khabib laid out the situation, saying (via translation), “The last few days, Umar has been in a hotel with a high fever, which was caused by a staphylococcal infection. But despite this, he and our entire team were determined that he would perform on October 24th. This morning, before our flight to Abu Dhabi, he got worse and was hospitalized in Dubai. Get well brother, so it was meant to be.”
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Всем Салам Алейкум. Последние несколько дней Умар пролежал в отеле с высокой температурой, которая была вызвана стафилококковой инфекцией. Но несмотря на это он и вся наша команда были настроены, что он выступит 24 октября. Сегодня утром, перед нашим вылетом в Абу-Даби ему стало хуже и его госпитализировали в Дубае. – Выздоравливай Братишка, значит так было суждено @umar_nurmagomedov
A post shared by Khabib Nurmagomedov (@khabib_nurmagomedov) on Oct 18, 2020 at 4:40am PDT
The news means that Nurmagomedov has now been forced to miss three debut bookings with the UFC. His first, against Hunter Azure at UFC 249, was postponed due to restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, while he withdrew from his second, against England’s Nathaniel Wood at UFC on ESPN 14, due to the death of his uncle and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov following complications from COVID-19. Now illness has ruled out Nurmagomedov’s third attempt to step into the octagon.
Khabib and Umar were both scheduled to compete together on the UFC 254 card, but now only Khabib will head to Abu Dhabi from the team’s Dubai training camp as “The Eagle” makes his final preparations to face Justin Gaethje on Saturday, with multiple UFC officials confirming to MMA Junkie on the ground in Abu Dhabi that Khabib’s main event fight remains “100 percent on.”
— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) October 18, 2020