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Khabib Nurmagomedov says weight is ‘perfect’ leading into UFC 219 fight with Edson Barboza

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LOS ANGELES — There was nothing funny about Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last attempt at trying to make lightweight earlier this year. But the UFC lightweight contender was in a relatively jovial mood Tuesday at a UFC 219 media lunch.

Nurmagomedov, who had to be rushed to the hospital during his weight cut before UFC 209 back in March, jokingly revealed his strategy this time around before his fight Edson Barboza on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.

“I have plan for cutting weight,” Nurmagomedov said. “I’m gonna cut my left or right leg [off] Friday morning, before weigh-ins. Now we think about this — left or right?”

In all seriousness, Nurmagomedov said the dieting down process was going very well and he was on target to make the 156-pound limit next week. Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdel-Aziz said Nurmagomedov was eight or nine pounds lighter now than at this point prior to UFC 209.

“I change a lot of things,” Nurmagomedov said. “My weight is perfect. My shape is good. I have three more hard days and I finish all my training camp and focus on making weight. We’ll see. I am not in bad shape. I’m very excited about it. I want to show this.”

Nurmagomedov, 29, said the weight he is at now was the weight that he reached three days before UFC 209. On the morning of weigh-ins before that event, in which Nurmagomedov was supposed to fight Tony Ferguson for the UFC interim lightweight title, the Dagestani fighter had to be taken to the hospital due to kidney issues.

When asked his actual weight Tuesday, Nurmagomedov coyly demurred, saying you should not ask fighters their age or weight, much like you’re not supposed to ask a woman those same questions. But he seemed confident that he would reach the mark.

“I’m very close,” Nurmagomedov said.

Nurmagomedov (24-0) has not attempted to cut weight or fight since that mishap in March. Since then, Ferguson has gone on to win the UFC interim lightweight title against Kevin Lee. Nurmagomedov said he had no problem with the UFC not giving him a chance at the belt right away, despite his undefeated record.

“[My manager and my father] said I think the UFC is gonna give you one more fight before title,” Nurmagomedov said. “I agree with this, I agree with this. You cannot fight every fight for the title.”

He is hoping to get a title shot with a win over Barboza at UFC 219. First, though, he’ll have to make weight. And Nurmagomedov seems to find it pretty amusing that it is a big story heading into the UFC’s big, year-end card.

“I think it’s interesting,” Nurmagomedov said. “For people. Maybe we’re gonna make pay-per-view on weigh-in. People want to know, is this guy gonna make weight or no? Why not? People waiting not only my fight, people waiting for my weight. It’s OK. It’s gonna be interesting.”