Khabib Nurmagomedov realises the UFC may be giving him the Jose Aldo empty promise treatment
You can't help but feel a little sympathy for Jose Aldo and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
When Aldo stepped into the Octagon to face Conor McGregor at UFC 194, it only took 13 seconds for that seismic left hand to find its target and render him unconscious. It was such an all-out annihilation that the matchmakers would have been totally within their rights to deny Scarface a quick rematch against the Notorious to try to reclaim the belt he had held for so long.
However, then they booked him for an interim featherweight title bout against Frankie Edgar at UFC 200, which he won comprehensively and then Dana White said the following on SportsCenter after McGregor exacted revenge on Nate Diaz at UFC 202.
“Conor has to defend his title or make a decision to give it up."
We all know what happened next. McGregor was booked to take on Eddie Alvarez in a lightweight title fight at UFC 205 and he wasn't stripped of his 145 lb belt despite not taking the unification fight against Aldo. The legendary Brazilian fighter reacted terribly to this news.
He requested a contract termination, prepared himself to take the fight to court and even suggested deliberately throwing fights in an effort to get out of his deal before finally coming to his senses. However, there is no sign that he will be getting the next Red Panty Night, nor has there been any word of the UFC's first ever dual champion being forced to give up one his belts, as White had promised.
Nurmagomedov is another one who knows the gut-wrenching feeling of title shot promises that do not materialise. The Dagestani believes he was used as a bargaining tool during the latter stages of the contract negotiations for UFC 205.
While everyone was looking forward to McGregor getting his chance to make history against Alvarez, that fight appeared to fall through at the crucial final stage. Nurmagomedov claims he was subsequently sent a contract to fight Alvarez instead of the Notorious, with White even confirming that news to a fan on Twitter.
not true it's @TeamKhabib
— danawhite (@danawhite) September 21, 2016
After having a career plagued with injury, yet still running through every opponent he's ever faced with relative ease, Nurmagomedov was understandably thrilled with the announcement.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) September 21, 2016
Of course, McGregor and the UFC eventually came to an agreement and Nurmagomedov was instead matched up against explosive striker Michael Johnson on the preliminary card.
As we've seen so many times before from the Eagle, he took a highly-skilled opponent and completely dominated him with his elite-level grappling. After wearing him down over the course of the fight, he submitted MJ via kimura in the third round in a performance that may very well have secured him a title shot.
Joe Rogan certainly seems to think he'll be granted a Red Panty Night next, especially considering White had him already lined up to fight for the belt before McGregor finalised his deal, but Nurmagomedov doesn't have the same faith in the promotion. He released a statement on Instagram shortly after the Johnson win in which he explained why he feels he may be snubbed of title shot, despite arguably being the number-one contender in the division.
"Listen, this is not a limit of my abilities. They didn't invite me to post fight press conference, didn't give my deserved POTN bonus. Trying to hide me from media as much as they can, so I won't come close to the title fight."
"But they can't even imagine how huge my hope for God. They like 'win belts'? But I winning people's hearts."