UFC fired eight fighters: Khabib's cousin among them

The UFC has decided to get rid of fighters they consider to have no potential for greater results in the future, and two names are well known and the biggest surprise

by Sededin Dedovic
UFC fired eight fighters: Khabib's cousin among them
© Handout / Getty Images

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is a dynamic fighting league, constantly evolving with new talent coming in and the occasional departure of established veterans. This "roster turnover" is a defining characteristic of the UFC, ensuring a constant flow of exciting matches and keeping the competition fierce.

In 2023, this trend continued with a significant "cleaner", which resulted in the release of eight fighters and three retirements. This is not a new case, because the UFC often knows how to change fighters, but this time it caused a lot of public attention because of some very famous names within the UFC.

Among the most notable departures were Devin Clark (14-9-0, 8-9 UFC) and Abubakar Nurmagomedov (17-4-0, 2-2 UFC).

The Shadow of His Family Legacy: Abubakar Nurmagomedov's UFC Journey

Abubakar Nurmagomedov, 34, carried a household name inside the Octagon, but his performances in the cage didn't quite match the brilliance of his cousin Khabib Nurmagomedov or his brother Umar Nurmagomedov.

While another cousin, Usman Nurmagomedov, is thriving in Bellator, Abubakar's UFC career has been mixed. He had a couple of his moments of brilliance, but when we look at everything, he left a very faint mark in the UFC and probably if he wasn't Khabib's cousin, he wouldn't be so famous.

The main reason for his dismissal is assumed to be inactivity and postponement of matches, which we have seen so far that the UFC does not tolerate. His Moscow 2019 debut came with a surprising first-round submission loss to Dawid Zawada.

Then a new fighter, a cousin of Khabib, who was very popular at the time, disappointed both the UFC management and those who expected him to be as successful as his more famous cousin. This failure was followed by a long absence, and his next appearance was only in March 2021.

In those two years, he did not have a single match that the UFC did not compete with even the best. A win over Jared Gooden was followed by a win against Gadzhi Omargadzhiev later in 2022. However, his last UFC fight in June 2023 ended in a split decision loss to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

Abubakar seemed uninterested in that match and spoke very few words before and after the match. Abubakar's infrequent appearances were a significant factor in his release. With only four fights in more than four years within the UFC, his activity level appears to be below the organization's expectations.

Perhaps Abubakar has alternative plans for his career and a mutual agreement led to his departure. Time will tell where he competes next.

Departing UFC Veteran: Devin Clark's Tenure

Devin Clark was a true UFC veteran. Joining the organization in 2016, he has amassed a record 17 fights.

Although his record leaned toward losses, Clark shared the Octagon with a host of talented fighters. Notable names in his fight record include Jan Blachowicz, Anthony Smith, Ion Cutelaba, Azamat Murzakanov and Ryan Spann. He didn't have a good record against almost any top 15 fighter, but he got a lot of fans because of his aggressiveness.

Devin Clark punches Ion Cutelaba of Moldova in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on Septemb© Handout / Getty Images

Clark served as a key goalie in the light heavyweight division.

Those who emerged victorious against him often continued their rise to the top of the rankings, while those who struggled against his hard-to-catch style often struggled to reach contender status. Clark's UFC career ended after two consecutive losses to Kennedy Nzechukwu and Marcin Prachni.

Still a young fighter at 33, Clark likely has a few years left in his career and will undoubtedly find a new platform to showcase his skills.

Beyond the Headlines: Other departures and retirements

Mike Breeden, Fernie Garcia, Luis Saldana, Denys Bondar, Daniel Lacerda and Mateus Mendonca round out the list of released fighters.

These athletes, while not household names, have contributed to the depth and competitiveness of the UFC roster. Adding to the roster changes, Mark O. Madsen, Jamie Pickett and Tyson Pedro have made the difficult decision to retire from the sport.

Their departures leave a void in their weight categories, but also open the way for new prospects.

The cycle continues: New blood and renewed challenges

The UFC's "roster selection" is a double-edged sword. While it can be sad to see established veterans leave, it also ensures a steady flow of fresh talent.

Newcomers bring with them exciting fighting styles and a hunger to prove themselves. This constant influx keeps the competition fierce and ensures that fight fans are always treated to amazing matches. Looking ahead, the departures and retirements of 2023 present an opportunity for the UFC to cultivate new stars.

Which young fighters will step up and fill the void left by the released athletes? The signing of contracts with three new young fighters was announced, but we do not know anything else except that two of t