In a little bait-and-switch, it turns out that earlier reports that Donald Cerrone would fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 178 in September were true. But the lightweights won’t be fighting.
At the UFC Fight Night 46 pre-fight media scrum in Dublin, Ireland, UFC president Dana White said that the fight was agreed upon and official, but that disaster struck less than half-an-hour after the paperwork was filed.
"That is supposed to be true, that fight is made -- it’s done," White said. "Twenty minutes later, [Nurmagomedov] went into the gym and blew his knee out. Twenty. F---ing. Minutes. Later.
"It was done. The bout agreements, done. Email went out last night from [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva saying that this fight is done, both contracts were signed…boom, 20 minutes later, you’re not going to f---ing believe this, the fight is off."
Cerrone just fought on Wednesday night in Atlantic City at UFC Fight Night 45 against Jim Miller, a fight he won via TKO in the second round (headkick). As always, Cerrone said he was willing to fight again as soon as possible, and the UFC wasted no time in booking him against the Dagestani fighter, Nurmagomedov, who was lobbying for the fight on Twitter.
White said he only knew it was the knee that Nurmagomedov hurt, but didn’t know to what extent.
The bout, which was scheduled for UFC 178 in Las Vegas on September 27, was expected to hold some pretty interesting title stakes. Now that it’s off, the question became whether or not Cerrone would still fight on the card, or if he'd be moved.
"He’s out, [and we’ll] make another fight," White said. "We had the fight done."
One interesting option for Cerrone that was brought up was in-limbo Nate Diaz, who was tweeting out insults towards Cerrone before Wednesday’s fight, essentially referring to him as a UFC yes man. Diaz and Cerrone fought in late 2011 at UFC 141, a memorable battle that Diaz ultimately won via decision. Cerrone said he would be in favor of that fight after his victory over Miller, but White laughed at the idea.
"Come on you guys, ridiculous," White said. "Call Nate, see what he says."
Nurmagomedov is 6-0 in the UFC, and 22-0 overall. He was coming off a victory over Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 11 in April. A bout between him and Cerrone, who has now won four fights in a row, was to be a collision of momentums. As for whom Cerrone will face next, White said he didn't know yet.