Donald Cerrone helped even the most cynical fans rekindle their love of MMA with his tantalizing fight with Jim Miller on Wednesday, and the future seemed even brighter when rumors swirled that he was set to face Dagestani sensation Khabib Nurmagomedov.
When news broke that Cerrone vs. Nurmagomedov was booked for UFC 178, there was much rejoicing. When UFC President Dana White discussed how the operative word in that sentence is "was," however, there was much melancholy.
According to White (h/t Chuck Mindenhall from MMAFighting.com), Nurmagomedov and Cerrone signed the contract, only for Nurmagomedov to suffer a serious injury just minutes later. "It was done. The bout agreements, done. Email went out last night from Joe Silva saying that this fight is done, both contracts were signed," he said. "Boom, 20 minutes later, you’re not going to f---ing believe this, the fight is off."
Cerrone and Nurmagomedov represent two of the hottest names in the lightweight division right now.
Cerrone, a top fighter in the WEC who has cemented himself as one of the best 155-pounders in the world in the years since, is on an impressive four-fight win streak. After dropping a troubling decision loss to Rafael dos Anjos in August 2013, Cerrone bounced back with an impressive submission win over Evan Dunham. From there he racked up three more stoppage victories over Adriano Martins, Edson Barboza and, most recently, Miller.
Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, has made waves with his ability to demolish solid lightweights. He made his UFC debut by submitting Kamal Shalorus and has since put up dominant wins over Gleison Tibau, Thiago Tavares, Abel Trujillo, Pat Healy and Rafael dos Anjos. He finds himself out indefinitely now, however, which puts his electrifying career on an awkward hold that could last for a full year.
The lone bright spot is that UFC 178 remains stacked. The card is headlined by the long-anticipated rematch between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson and backed up by the returns of former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz (opposite Takeya Mizugaki) and women's bantamweight contender Cat Zingano (opposite Amanda Nunes). Add in a big middleweight tilt between Tim Kennedy and Yoel Romero and a battle between welterweight strikers Patrick Cote and Stephen Thompson, and UFC 178 boasts an incredibly strong card on September 27.