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Javier Mendez: Too much was made of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s weight cut issues before UFC 209

UFC 205 photos
Khabib Nurmagomedov
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Khabib Nurmagomedov has been an easy target for criticism ever since a weight cut-related illness forced him to bow out of UFC 209.

That was supposed to be the show where Nurmagomedov finally faced off with rival Tony Ferguson after two previous bookings had fallen through, and for the interim lightweight title no less. Instead, the third missed attempt would prove to be the worst as Nurmagomedov had to be taken to the hospital to treat problems with his kidneys less than 48 hours before showtime.

Fans wondered how Nurmagomedov and his team could let disaster strike so close to the biggest opportunity of his career and pre-fight footage of Nurmagomedov having dessert with his friends soon went viral (though there was no evidence that Nurmagomedov partook in the infamous tiramisu featured in the clip).

Nurmagomedov’s coach Javier Mendez recently appeared on Submission Radio to defend his fighter.

“You know, the last time, people were making too much of his weight cut, talking about it was disastrous, he wasn’t gonna make weight, just because his opponent says he wasn’t gonna make weight and he made fun of it. He was on schedule to make weight, his body just failed on him,” Mendez said. “It’s like, how many times do you see a fighter get ready for a fight and all of a sudden kidney stones or something happens to him? Look, it does have a lot to do with losing weight that causes these problems, but it wasn’t that he wasn’t gonna make weight, he was gonna make weight, he wasn’t over anything, he was just like where he normally is. And just the thing with Khabib is, he doesn’t like to say anything about it, and he still won’t say anything about it.

“And then there’s that tiramisu bulls**t. You know, he don’t eat that stuff, he never ate that stuff. He’s with a bunch of fighters that aren’t in camp and not fighting, so they’re not allowed to eat because he’s not allowed to eat? It’s like stupid, you know? Too much has been made up of something that wasn’t even there.”

Ahead of his upcoming fight with Edson Barboza at UFC 219 on Dec. 30, “The Eagle” is saying all the right things about his battle with the scale. Earlier this week, he described his weight as being “perfect”.

One rumor that Mendez could confirm is that Ferguson was a distinct possibility to fight Nurmagomedov at year’s end, but there were other factors in play that prevented it from happening.

“Yeah, 100 percent true, they offered Tony,” Mendez said. “But listen, you know, Tony, when he was going for that gold, he was saying, ‘I’ll defend, I’ll do this, I’ll do that,’ but reality is, he’s the fighter but he’s got businessmen that manage him, and they’re doing a good job doing with that. And it comes down to, once you reach that mountain top, which Tony has, then it’s about making the wise choices that make the most sense.

“And let’s face it, a bout with Khabib versus a bout with Conor, which was what Dana was talking about, everybody was talking about, if you were in Tony’s shoes what would you do? You’re not just gonna fight anybody that comes up and whatever. No, he’s gonna try to get himself in that sweepstake situation with Conor, and you can’t blame him, I don’t blame him.”

Despite calls for Nurmagomedov to at least consider a move up to the welterweight division, Mendez maintains that they are strictly focused on winning a championship at 155 for now.

"And I mean, first thing’s first, he needs to capture that UFC title and defend it and then see what happens from there on what he wants to do, what him and his father want to do,” Mendez said. “So, it’s all gonna depend on that, but he’s first gotta get that title before any decision can be made on what the future holds.”

Listen to the full interview below:

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