Highly-touted bantamweight prospect Umar Nurmagomedov is pushing hard for a fight against the No.1 ranked Merab Dvalishvili next despite ‘The Machine’ already having turned down the chance to go up against him in May due to an injury.
“ufc @danawhite offer me main event, May 13 I accept against Merab he have injury I wish him a speedy recovery, but I’m waiting to share the cage with him June or July,” Nurmagomedov wrote.
Dvalishvili’s manager Oren Hodak has since responded to indicate that they are likely to pass on the opportunity to fight Nurmagomedov as they have their sights set on Cory Sandhagen, who called him out after his win over Marlon Vera on Saturday night.
“Merab is interested in tasting that [Cory] Sandhagen sandwich that was on the menu and comes at a much more high profile extra value meal compared to a guy not even in the top 10’ (He asked me to quote him on that),” Hodak told Aaron Bronsteter.
It is somewhat surprising that the UFC was trying to have the No.1 contender fight someone ranked No.11, so it makes sense that they’d rather fight the No.3 ranked Sandhagen.
Nevertheless, Nurmagomedov is no ordinary 11th ranked prospect as he’s the brother of Bellator champion Usman Nurmagomedov, the cousin of former UFC lightweight kingpin Khabib Nurmagomedov and is currently undefeated in his 16-fight career to date, including four wins in the UFC so far.
On top of that, even the man currently expected to fight for the bantamweight title next, former two-division champion Henry Cejudo has recently stated his belief that the 27-year-old Nurmagomedov is the most dangerous fighters in the division.
“Umar is the most dangerous guy,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “At 135 pounds, out of all these cats that I see, Umar Nurmagomedov is the toughest challenge for any of them, including myself.
“He can wrestle, he can strike, he can box, he’s well-rounded. He’s seen his brother and his cousin win world titles and he wants to be next.”
That being said, the 32-year-old Dvalishvili unquestionably presents a formidable challenge in his own right, having now nine fights in a row inside the Octagon, with his last two victories coming against top talents in Jose Aldo and Petr Yan.
So, whether they fight next or not, it seems that there’s a good chance that Dvalishvili and Nurmagomedov will meet as some stage in the future in the ultra-competitive bantamweight division.