UFC headliner blows shoulder sparring, replacement set for top contender’s bout

The UFC has already got a new main event fighter lined up after one of their top prospects was forced from his headlining slot due to injury.

By: Zane Simon | 2 months ago

The UFC’s 2023 schedule has been a rough one for main events. The world’s largest MMA promotion has already had more than a dozen headlining fight changes on this year’s schedule, with this latest switch hitting the planned UFC Fight Night card on August 5th in Nashville, TN.

The card had been set to feature a top flight bantamweight fight between former interim bantamweight title challenger Cory Sandhagen and fast rising top prospect Umar Nurmagomedov. A huge jump for Nurmagomedov, who was coming off a win over Raoni Barcelos on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov back in January. Unfortunately, the former Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov disciple has been forced from the matchup due to injury.

UFC BW Umar Nurmagomedov after his win over Raoni Barcelos.
Umar Nurmagomedov after his win over Raoni Barcelos. IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Umar Nurmagomedov posts video of training injury

A former combat sambo world champion, Nurmagomedov first hit the UFC back in 2021 after five years of strong results on the Russian and American MMA scenes. Unbeaten through twelve fights, Nurmagomedov made his debut against Kazakhstan’s Sergey Morozov at UFC on ESPN Chiesa vs. Magny, besting the former M-1 Bantamweight champion by tech sub in the second round.

He followed that up with a quick victory over longtime veteran Brian Kelleher and a strong decision over Nate Maness, before stepping up to fight Barcelos in what many felt would be the toughest test of Nurmagomedov’s career to date. Instead, he made brutally light work of the Brazilian with a first round knockout. It seemed like big things were on the horizon for the AKA talent.

Unfortunately, it now seems those things will have to wait. Nurmagomedov posted a video to social media shortly after news dropped that he was out of his bout against Sandhagen, showing the moment in training when he blew out his shoulder.

Along with the Instagram post, Nurmagomedov noted that he would now have to undergo surgery to repair the damage, and that “fighting the most important fight in my life with torn shoulder ligaments would be the biggest stupidity of my life.”

Rob Font to face Sandhagen in UFC Nashville main event

In Nurmagomedov’s place, top ranked bantamweight Rob Font has been tabbed to face Cory Sandhagen in the UFC Nashville main event. ESPN first broke news of the booking, which has since been confirmed by several outlets.

Font will enter this fight fresh off a major highlight reel KO over top prospect Adrian Yanez back in April at UFC 287. Expected by some to be a changing of the guard fight, Font found Yanez a willing partner in pocket boxing exchanges and showed the 29-year-old that despite back-to-back losses in his previous outings, the Team Sityodtong talent was far from finished.

Prior to the victory Font had been pushed back from the contender’s circle in hard losses to Marlon Vera and Jose Aldo, both of whom found the Massachusetts native ready to swarm with volume, but unable to match their power on the feet.

That should make for a fascinating matchup for Sandhagen, who has—at times—had his own struggles with the division’s bigger punchers. Both men will enter the bout having never been knocked out, and with a reputation for being willing to engage in brutal, prolonged wars of attrition.

Outside the bantamweight main event, UFC Nashville is set to feature a women’s strawweight bout between former champion Jessica Andrade and onetime super prospect Tatiana Suarez, as well as a top-ranked light heavyweight fight between Dustin Jacoby and Kennedy Nzechukwu.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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