Featherweight Star Breaks Silence on UFC Retirement, Hints at Next Move

zabit magomedsharipov retirement retires

Getty Brandon Davis and Zabit Magomedsharipov in their Featherweight bout during UFC 228.

A UFC featherweight contender who once seemed destined for a title confirmed what many MMA fans feared would be coming: He’s stepping away from fighting. Zabit Magomedsharipov revealed in an Instagram post that he is retiring from the UFC at the age of 31. The Dagestani fighter had not fought in the Octagon since 2019 because of injuries. His retirement was first reported by MMA Fighting on June 15, 2022.

In his retirement announcement posted to Instagram on June 16, Zabit said, “Assalamu alaikum friends! I know that many of you were waiting for my return, there was not a single day that someone did not ask when is my next fight was. But I decided to end my pro sports career. Disruptions of fights, and then health problems – all this did not allow me to perform/fight earlier. I have recovered now, but I don’t feel the way I used to.”

If Magomedsharipov stays retired, he will finish his career with a record of 18-1 overall and 6-0 in the UFC’s 145-pound division. His last fight came against Calvin Kattar, who is set to headline the UFC Fight Night card in Austin on June 18. He was scheduled to fight Yair Rodriguez in August 2020, but the fight was scrapped because Rodriguez injured his ankle.

Magomedsharipov made his highly anticipated UFC debut in 2017 after fighting in ACB and winning the Featherweight Championship in the Russian promotion. He rattled off victories over Mike Santiago, Sheymon Moraes, Kyle Bochniak, Brandon Davis (finishing him with only the third Suloev stretch submission in UFC history), Jeremy Stephens and Kattar, rising quickly through the rankings. In September 2021, Magomedsharipov’s coach, Mark Henry, teased that the Russian star would be returning, posting, “BEST UFC Featherweight ZA-BEAST! HES BACK 👊🏼.” But no fight materialized.

Zabit Magomedsharipov Has Indicated He Is Taking an Unusual Path for Retired Fighters — Studying to Become a Doctor

Zabit Magomedsharipov hinted his return to the Octagon might never materialize with an Instagram post in April 2022. The post showed him sitting in front of a laptop computer at a Doctors of the World clinic in Russia, with the caption, “A new name will soon appear in the medical world of Makhachkala,” hinting that he could be stopping his fighting career to study to become a doctor. Magomedsharipov hasn’t opened up about his future career plans yet.

But health issues, along with the pandemic, slowed his climb to the top of the UFC. His manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told MMAJunkie in January 2022 that his client was dealing with health issues but was trying to train to make his return. In May 2021, another member of Magomedsharipov’s camp, Rizcan Magomedov, issued a statement saying that Zabit was dealing with “health problems, and more specifically, with the immune system.” He also said Magomedsharipov needed surgery to deal with his health issues, but had to delay it because of the immune system problems.

Henry, Magomedsharipov’s longtime coach, wrote on Instagram, “Thank you @zabit_magomedsharipov for letting my eyes see things in this sport that many people if they lived 100 lifetimes couldn’t see. ( And the world only saw 10 % of many moves you did daily). Can remember soo many times getting home from spar and going over spar video with my son and rewinding 20x and not believing it’s impossible for the human body to do the things you did effortlessly. You will always be the BEST featherweight in the world to me and your team!”

Former UFC champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who announced her own retirement after her loss at UFC 275, commented on Magomedsharipov’s Instagram post, “Get better soon! Be happy and healthy Zabit.”

Zabit’s Younger Brother Is a Rising Star in Bellator & He Was Cageside for His First 2 Fights in the Organization

In his retirement message, Zabit added, “Thank you to everyone who has supported me for such a long time. I didn’t have time to become a champion, but I think, even without this, I hope I was able to please/entertain you. I cease to be an active athlete, but I do not leave the sport. I have something and with whom to share my knowledge. So don’t say goodbye, friends!” Magomedsharipov’s most recent Instagram post before his retirement announcement showed him in New Jersey with Henry, whose gym is based in the Garden State, on June 13.

One way Zabit will still be around the sport of MMA will be through his younger brother, Khasan Magomedsharipov. The 21-year-old featherweight is 7-0 in his fledgling career. He made his debut in Bellator in 2021 and has picked up two victories, over Jonathan Quiroz at Bellator 263 in July 2021 and over Jose Sanchez at Bellator 275 in February 2022. His older brother was cageside, along with Henry, for both of those bouts. His next fight hasn’t been announced yet.

While Zabit never held gold in an American MMA promotion, his brother has hopes he will be able to do so. The younger Magomedsharipov said at his press conference after his first Bellator victory, through an interpreter, “It’s not like a pressure, but even your opponents, when they see your last name, they start preparing twice as hard because they expect something.” He said he is even more motivated to succeed because of his brother’s success. He said he doesn’t think it will take long for him to get a Bellator title shot. “I’m training with some of the best in the sport,” he said. “We have the best coaches in the world. I don’t think it will take long. I will be there in a few years.”

After his brother announced his retirement from the UFC, Khasan posted a photo on Instagram of him in his corner and wrote, “what’s next coach @zabit_magomedsharipov 😁 There is a lot of work ahead.”