Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
MMA, like life, is a fickle mistress, and we have no one to blame but ourselves when she crushes our hopes. If only because it means we were foolish enough to have them in the first place.
Take the scheduled main event fight of UFC on Fox 19 on April 16 between lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. Did any of us believe, down in our hearts, that fight would actually take place? After all, it’s been two years since Nurmagomedov last fought in the Octagon, two years plagued by injury and misery and no fewer than three cancelled fights. For all his fighting acumen and his grappling genius and his incomparable fur hats, Nurmagomedov is known best at this point as a cautionary tale and a memento mori, a reminder to the human race of its fragility and its random decline and inevitable passing. Every one of the Dagestani wrestler’s long-for returns has been cut off by cruel fate, each cancellation more disheartening than the last. First hope then disappointment, and finally, despair. When he was forced to drop out of his last fight back in October with a rib injury, the usually indomitable Nurmagomedov seemed resigned to his fate, writing on Instagram, “I’m not sure if I will ever come back.” The MMA gods had gone a step too far that time. Something broke. For Nurmagomedov most of all but also for MMA fans. Fool us four times, shame on us.
But the MMA gods are not merely cruel; they’re also capricious. When it was announced yesterday that the Ferguson/Nurmagomedov fight was off, the shock didn’t come until we learned that it was Ferguson and not Nurmagomedov whose injury had caused the cancellation. Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Even ….View full article