Mixed martial arts fans were extremely bummed out when lightweight powerhouse Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced out of his interim title bout against Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 earlier this month.
While UFC President Dana White isn't exactly sure what to do with the Russian star following his latest fight withdrawal, Nurmagomedov's trainer Javier Mendez has some thoughts about the fighter's future. During a recent discussion with SB Nation's Submission Radio, the AKA head coach said that Nurmagomedov is currently getting himself checked out at a facility in Germany, and will make a decision about a comeback following the evaluation and a discussion with his father.
“So until that’s done, I don’t think that any decision’s going to be made on when his return date will be," Mendez said. "I think it’s all gonna be based on what the doctors tell him there and most importantly of all, the other thing is his father. His father’s basically his biggest adviser. He’s gonna take his father’s advice before he takes my advice or anybody else’s advice."
He added, "So it’s gonna come down to him and his father making the decision after he gets cleared when he goes to Germany to have himself checked out.”
Speaking of Nurmagomedov's father, Mendez admitted that it's a very real possibility that the lightweight star takes his dad's consul and retire early from the sport, should they reach that decision.
Being that his father, like I said, is a huge influence on him and if that’s what him and his father decide to do then that’s what will happen. And I support it, if that’s what they want. But you know, time will tell, right? I mean, he first has to get that title and I think that’s a very important thing in his life, and I would think if his body is not 100 percent healthy and his mind is the way it’s always been, like wanting to be the best, then it may be longer than 30 because of the fact that things like this happen – delays, injuries, he gets injured, his opponent gets injured. I mean, this is the third time between him and Tony. He first gets injured, then Tony has to pull out for medical reasons in which he was justified, and now Khabib pulled out. So who knows. Anything can happen. But I see it potentially happening if that’s what they wish.
If it was up to Mendez, however, he'd prefer to see Nurmagomedov stay in the fight game for as long as possible, saying, "You know, if I’m gonna be selfish, of course I would want him as long as he wants to do it and he’s healthy."
Should the undefeated Russian make his way back to the Octagon, Mendez says that it's up to the UFC to decide who his next opponent would be. The AKA head coach wouldn't mind seeing another date with Ferguson on the books, though.
"I’d like to see them fight again in May 11th if possible, but again, Tony would have to want the fight too," Mendez said. "Tony has an opinion too and I’m sure he’s got a family to support and he’s gonna have to feel good about that fight and secure the fight will happen.”
As for whether current champ Conor McGregor is a tougher test than Ferguson, Mendez revealed that he believes "El Cucuy" is the harder fight because "he's dangerous everywhere" while Conor is the world's "most dangerous" stand-up fighter in the lightweight division.
“For us, Tony was the tougher challenge because he’s dangerous everywhere. Conor is the most dangerous in the stand-up probably out of any lightweight in the world ever," Mendez said. "Tony’s dangerous on the ground, Conor would not be a danger on the ground. To me it would be like Khabib standing with Conor. The longer we stand up with Conor, the worse it gets for us. Well with Conor, the longer he’s on the ground, the worse it gets for him."
He added, "But Tony is dangerous everywhere. So stylistically I say – not that I’m saying one’s better than the other – it’s just stylistically for us Tony was a much tougher fight.”