Zubaira Tukhugov, who had voiced his concerns over making weight for his scrap with Hakeem Dawodu without his late mentor Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, has tipped the scales at 4lbs over the featherweight cut-off ahead of UFC 253.
Tukhugov flexed his biceps as he stood on the scales for the official weigh-in on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi and did not react as it was announced that he had significantly exceeded the 145lb limit for his fight.
He had pictured himself sweating in a full tracksuit inside a gym twice within the last week, praying in the accompanying Instagram caption on Wednesday that he would “soon be on weight”.
His previous post, in which he also posed in a sweat-soaked outfit with his hood up, warned: “Weight-cutting is one of the most difficult processes in preparing for a fight.”
Speaking to RT Sport earlier this week, the experienced Tukhugov admitted that the late Nurmagomedov, who trained him before his tragic death in July from complications relating to the coronavirus, had played a key role in reassuring and guiding him to the required weight before his previous encounters.
“When I was getting nervous about my weight cut, he came to me and encouraged me,” explained Tukhugov.
“My training partners made a lot of mistakes during my weight cut. He made adjustments and then I was cutting weight properly.”
.@ZubairaTukhugov is cutting the last pounds ahead of #UFC253 weigh-in 📽️: Murad Machaev pic.twitter.com/NHBhoE8mLE
Nurmagomedov’s son, UFC lightweight champion Khabib, will be in Tukhugov’s corner after taking more of a leadership role within their close-knit team, but Tukhugov hinted that he had still been struggling with his weight despite the expertise available to him.
“I’m having problems now,” he revealed. “I think: ‘If Abdulmanap was here, I’d give him all my trust and cut weight easily.’ But what can you do?
“Abdulmanap shared his experience with everyone on the team but he shared the most with Khabib because he’s his son. Thus, Khabib has the most experience out of everyone.”
He sounded more confident about his chances of avenging a defeat to Dawodu four years ago, despite the Canadian entering their bout on Fight Island on a four-match winning streak.
Dawodu beat one of Nurmagomedov junior’s teammates, Marat Magomedov, in the World Series of Fighting in 2016, and has predicted that Tukhugov will become his second victim from the camp, dismissing him as “the guy that punched Conor McGregor” after the violent scenes following Nurmagomedov’s title fight in 2018.
After missing weight, Tukhugov will now need to wait and see if Dawodu agrees to a catchweight contest, in which case he will be forced to forfeit a share of his fight purse.
Tukhugov was not alone as L’udovit Klein, a fellow featherweight who will become the first Slovak UFC fighter when he takes on Shane Young, missed weight by the same amount on Friday afternoon.
All of the remaining fighters on the card, headlined by the middleweight clash between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa, weighed in within their required limits.