Damir Ismagulov, the No. 12 ranked UFC lightweight, has retired from the sport at the age of 31.
Even after losing to Arman Tsarukyan, Damir Ismagulov appeared to be a man who could easily compete for a UFC title someday. In 26 fights, the 31-year-old former M-1 lightweight champion had only been defeated twice and had never been finished.
It comes as a surprise, then, that the Russian-born Kazakh fighter appears to have announced his retirement in a post to his social media accounts on Sunday, January 1st.
“Unfortunately, due to circumstances and health problems, I have to end my sports career,” Ismagulov wrote on Instagram “Thanks to all those who were by my side, regardless of the result in the battles, who sincerely hurt and worried. It was an interesting journey, a moment to remember. Hugged everyone.”
Ismagulov spent the majority of his early career fighting in M-1, where he became the promotion's lightweight champion in 2017 and defended it twice before joining the UFC in 2018. Damir dominated his first fight against Alex Gorgees, earning 30-25, 30-26, and 30-26 scores. In his next two fights, he blanked opponents Joel Alvarez and Thiago Moises on the scorecards before facing more of a challenge against Rafael Alves and Guram Kutateladze.
It is always disappointing to see a promising MMA career cut short. Damir Ismagulov, like Askar Askarov and Zabit Magomedsharipov, is a talented fighter whose career was cut short due to unspecified medical issues (although recently there has been some suggestions Zabit may return some day). Obviously, Damir's health must come first, but we can hope that he recovers sufficiently to resume his craft. It was always fun to watch him in the cage.