The bout between the former Strikeforce champion and the surging Russian seemed to be a sure thing, to the extent that the fight was displayed prominently on the poster for UFC 170. News that things were on the rocks first trickled through a few days ago when it was revealed the fight wasn't "official."
Apparently, the situation didn't resolve itself to the point where Gilbert Melendez was taken off the card. The UFC is seeking a new opponent for Nurmagomedov, but whether or not he will remain on the card is a mystery. So, too, is the reason why the UFC was unable to come to terms with Melendez on the fight.
Nurmagomedov has been on a tear since joining the UFC. He debuted in the promotion in 2012 opposite Kamal Shalorus at UFC on FX 1, choking out the veteran in the third round. Since then, he has racked up four straights wins for a 5-0 UFC record. Most recently, he beat well-regarded Strikeforce alumnus Pat Healy in impressive fashion at UFC 165.
Potential opponents are many for the 25-year-old Russian lightweight. The division is stacked with emerging and veteran talent, which gives the UFC numerous options to turn to. The short list of names includes Michael Johnson, Jim Miller and Edson Barboza.
UFC 170 takes place February 22 in Las Vegas. The card is headlined by Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann for the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship and is co-headlined by Rashad Evans vs. Daniel Cormier in the latter's light heavyweight debut.
We'll keep you posted if any new details emerge regarding Melendez.
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