No.2-ranked lightweight fighter Alexander Shabliy believes that he should now be the one holding the title due to the current situation of Usman Nurmagomedov, who failed his drug test and is currently observing his six-month ban.
Shabliy defeated No. 1-ranked lightweight fighter Patricky Freire in their bout at Bellator 301’s main card. It was an incredible fight between the two, especially for Shabliy, who left Pitbull’s face swollen and red with blood. The fight lasted three rounds, with Shabliy claiming the win via a unanimous decision and advancing to the lightweight grand prix final. Despite his success, nonetheless, Shabliy believes that the bout should have been for the undisputed title since Nurmagomedov won’t be available for months due to his punishment after failing a drug test.
According to Nurmagomedov, the failed drug test was the effect of a prohibited substance included in the prescribed medication by his doctor. California State Athletic Commission Andy Foster confirmed it, sharing that the mixed martial artist had a prescription but failed to apply for it to prevent the decision. Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, shared the details of the drug.
“Usman was prescribed medication for an illness he had,” Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz said. “It’s not an anabolic steroid, EPO, HGH, etc. Nothing enhancing.”
Despite those details, Shabliy doesn’t think the belt should remain on Nurmagomedov, stressing how “rules are rules.” Yet, the fighter is open about the idea of fighting the champ for the belt to prove he deserves it.
“I don’t think it should be an interim or temporary belt because, as we know, Usman had a situation,” Shabliy said during the post-fight news conference. “Unfortunately, rules are rules. I think the belt should still be in the tournament. I’m saying that he still might become a champion. Right now, we’re talking about the tournament. To be fair, the belt should be between us. We’ll see how it plays out. Maybe Usman will come back. Maybe not. I can’t really tell, but I’m ready for it. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. … Usman, Brent, Patrick, Tofiq, it doesn’t matter who. I will be champion. My dream is this belt.”
Shabliy is not the first to raise the issue. Pitbull also complained about Bellator’s decision, saying Nurmagomedov should let go of his title alongside his rematch against Brent Primus. Despite the pressure, Bellator is seemingly considering to give Nurmagomedov a second chance. According to reports, the promotion company will wait for the second result of another sample from the fighter before making a long-term decision.