Khabib still wants Junior dos Santos vs. Fedor despite injury loss

In the main event of Eagle FC 47 on Friday, Dos Santos sustained a third-round shoulder injury, ending his fight with Yorgan De Castro. This was Dos Santos’s first appearance since leaving the UFC.

Dos Santos was likely leading at the time of the injury. However, De Casto won by TKO when the ex-UFC heavyweight champion was unable to continue.

Prior to Friday’s fight, both Nurmagomedov and Bellator president Scott Coker openly toyed with the concept of a co-promoted showdown between the two heavyweight legends. Despite dos Santos’ loss due to injury, Nurmagomedov still loves the idea.

“I think it’s still viable,” Nurmagomedov said after Eagle FC 47, “because even if he lost, Junior looked amazing. Everybody see tonight, he’s improved a lot and he was looking amazing.”

“And I think it’s still interesting. I think for his shoulder, [as an] athlete — because I know when you have an injury, what you need, how many months you need to recover, everything — I think if he makes this next week, surgery, I think definitely he needs surgery.

“I’m not a doctor, but I see a lot of injuries inside the gym like this with shoulders, with knees. I think after three or four months, he can come back to sparring, and at the end of the year we can make this fight. Next week I’m going to sit with Scott Coker and we’re going to discuss about this fight.”

Dos Santos has suffered yet another setback in the main event of Eagle FC 47, compounding to his frustrations after leaving the UFC in early 2021 after four consecutive defeats.

Regardless of the outcome, Nurmagomedov was pleased with Dos Santos’s performance.

“Junior was looking amazing,” Nurmagomedov stated. “[For a] long time, I didn’t see [him look like] how he looked like tonight. He was looking very good. I think it was maybe his best shape in the last couple years, maybe five, six years. But it is what it is, you know? This is a very tough sport.”

“You can’t even blink in this sport when you’re inside the cage, because I know how it is being inside the cage, standing with someone [who’s] a professional athlete in front of you. It’s very dangerous and you have to stay focused every single second.”

In his post-fight interview, De Castro pleaded with Nurmagomedov to schedule the Emelianenko fight. He expressed that he is ready to sign as soon as Saturday.

Nurmagomedov said, “De Castro showed his heart. He’s mentally a very strong fighter today, and he won. It’s a question of how, but he won. And I think maybe it’s going to be a good matchup, De Castro vs. Rizvan Kuniev, fight for the title, and we work on this Junior vs. Fedor [for the] end of this year.”

This timeline might be optimistic – shoulder surgery can take quite a toll on a professional athlete with the recovery lasting anyway from 6 to 9 months with additional time needed to get back into the swing of things.