Read about Damir Ismagulov’s return to UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Magomedov event and his ambitions in the lightweight division. Find out his desire to fight Justin Gaethje and the implications for his future in the sport.
Table of Contents
- Damir Ismagulov’s Retirement and Comeback
- Ismagulov’s Desire to Fight Justin Gaethje
- Implications for Ismagulov’s Future
Damir Ismagulov’s Retirement and Comeback
Among the top storylines heading into this weekend’s UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Magomedov event is the return of ranked lightweight contender Damir Ismagulov. Ismagulov, who currently occupies #12 at 155 pounds, announced a surprising retirement following his decision loss to Arman Tsarukyan last December. The result brought an end to the Kazakh fighter’s 19-bout winning run and blemished his UFC record for the first time. Despite the level of competition he fell against, as well as his form beforehand, Ismagulov looked set to hang it up. In a statement announcing the decision, he cited “circumstances and health problems” as the reasoning behind his retirement . Just weeks later, the 32-year-old walked back the decision, revealing his intentions to fight out his contract with another outing. But as he gears up for that contest this Saturday against Grant Dawson, Ismagulov appears fully invested in the sport once again.
Ismagulov’s Desire to Fight Justin Gaethje
During his appearance at UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Magomedov media day on Wednesday, Ismagulov reflected on his brief thoughts of retirement and insisted that his drive for success in the cage is back. “It was a life situation, a personal family-type situation, where I decided that maybe it was time for me to hang it up,” Ismagulov said. “But a little time passed and I realized that I cannot live without it. Fighting is what I do, fighting is my life. So I decided to come back, come back stronger, come back and do what I’m supposed to be doing.” With that in mind, Ismagulov is already planning for life after his return fight against Dawson this weekend. After noting his desire to fight some of the division’s best boxers, the Kazakh athlete named former interim champion and top five contender Justin Gaethje as a fighter whom he’d like to share the cage with. And should that come to fruition, Ismagulov is expecting a comfortable victory over “The Highlight.”
Implications for Ismagulov’s Future
Some results will seemingly have to go a certain way for Ismagulov to book a date in the octagon with Gaethje. The #3-ranked lightweight is scheduled to headline UFC 291 against Dustin Poirier next month, where he’ll hope to secure another shot at achieving undisputed championship status. Of course, before perhaps hoping for “The Diamond” to emerge victorious in Salt Lake City, Ismagulov must first defend his position on the ladder against Dawson. Should accomplish that feat, the Kazakh fighter will firmly be back in the conversation at 155 pounds.