Usman Nurmagomedov’s Bellator 300 MMA title defense overturned due to doping violation

Bellator MMA champion Usman Nurmagomedov has his latest title defense overturned after doping violation.

By: Stephie Haynes | 4 weeks ago
Usman Nurmagomedov’s Bellator 300 MMA title defense overturned due to doping violation
Usman Nurmagomedov and Johnny Eblen | Jose Prestes / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

Bellator MMA 300 was a stacked card that featured three title fights and 13 more contests for a whopping total of 16. There was some rearranging and cancellations, most notably, a title fight between heavyweight champion Ryan Bader and Linton Vassell. That bout was cancelled due to an illness Vassell was suffering from and created waves after Bader posted to social media that Bellator wasn’t going to pay him. When the card lost that fight, Usman Nurmagomedov’s title defense against Brent Primus became the main event.

In the last few days, it was revealed that Nurmagomedov had been flagged for a doping violation of an undisclosed substance. As a result, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) suspended him for six months, overturned his win to a No Contest (NC) and fined him $50,000. According to his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, he will not be stripped of his belt.

Abdelaziz says Usman will get back in the tournament, though. Here’s the statement he issued to ESPN:

“Usman was prescribed medication for an illness he had. It’s NOT an anabolic steroid, EPO, HGH, etc. Nothing enhancing. He will rematch Primus and get back in the tournament.”

Usman Nurmagomedov denied TUE for MMA bout

Usman Nurmagomedov issued his own statement Saturday night on Instagram, as well:

“The results of my test revealed a prohibited substance that entered my body through medications, prescribed to me by a doctor. A few months before my fight, I was undergoing treatment, but unfortunately I did not notify the athletic commission in advance.”

While he did try to file a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) after the fact, he was denied. An additional punishment handed down to Usman was his removal from the lightweight tournament. That tourney pays out a cool $1M to the winner. Fighters like Benson Henderson, Patricky Pitbull and AJ McKee were all key names in the mix. As a matter of fact, Nurmagomedov was supposed to fight the winner of Patricky Pitbull and Alexander Shabliy.

Bellator’s future is uncertain

As we’ve been aware of for a few weeks now, Showtime Sports is being shuttered early next year leaving Bellator without a broadcast partner. Rumors have run rampant of a pending sale to the PFL. While still officially unconfirmed, word on the street is that the sale is all but a done deal and it’s now down to finalizing the paperwork.

In the past, Paramount (Bellator’s parent company) had turned down offers to buy the promotion, but with their own current financial downturn, they are unloading the properties they once put significant investments in. With the sale imminent, it’s anyone’s guess how long the promotion will run under the Bellator name. For all we know, if PFL does indeed wind up being the buyer, they could just absorb the roster into their own and be done with the name permanently.

And if Paramount can’t come to terms with a buyer, be it PFL or otherwise, John Nash reckons that the market could be very grim for displaced fighters with purses greatly reduced unless they secure a spot on the UFC’s roster. We must remember that Bellator was one of the last bastions of decent purses outside the UFC. If they are gone, all that is left is the PFL, and with competing promotions dwindling, that just means less resources for the athletes.

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About the author
Stephie Haynes
Stephie Haynes

Stephie Haynes has been covering MMA since 2005. She has also worked for MMA promotion Proelite and apparel brand TapouT. She hosted TapouT’s official radio show for four years before joining Bloody Elbow in 2012. She has interviewed everyone there is to interview in the fight game from from Dana White to Conor McGregor to Kimbo Slice, as well as mainstream TV, film and music stars including Norman Reedus, RZA and Anthony Bourdain. She has been producing the BE podcast network since 2017 and hosts four of its current shows.

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