‘Qazaq’ was a rising lightweight contender who diehard MMA fans adored. The 31-year-old seemed destined to fight for the 155-pound title but recently decided to start a new chapter in his life. Ismagulov made the official announcement on Instagram by saying:
“Unfortunately, due to circumstances and health problems, I am forced to end my sports career. Thanks to all those who were with me regardless of the outcome in the battles, who were sincerely sick and worried. It was an interesting journey, a moment to remember . Gave everyone a hug ня”
Throughout his UFC tenure, MMA fans sometimes noticed Ismagulov had a weird eye twitch. It’s unclear whether that had anything to do with his retirement. What we do know is that ‘Qazaq’ had the potential to become a UFC champion. Unfortunately, the former M-1 Challenge lightweight champion will go down as another what-if in MMA history.
Looking back on the MMA career of Damir Ismagulov
Damir Ismagulov made his pro-MMA debut in October 2014. He won his first five fights before suffering a unanimous decision loss against Ramazan Esenbaev. ‘Qazaq’ must have hated the feeling of losing because he stayed unbeaten for the next seven years.
Before joining the UFC, Ismagulov made a name for himself with M-1 Challenge. The Kazakhstan fighter captured the M-1 lightweight title against Maxim Divnich and defended the title until parting ways with the promotion.
Once he signed with the UFC, there were whispers of Ismagulov’s potential, but he wasn’t on everyone’s radar. ‘Qazaq’ won his promotional debut against Alex Gorges in 2018 and then earned respect by taking out Joel Alvarez and Thiago Moises.
After beating Moises, Ismagulov didn’t fight again for nearly two years. He returned in 2021 and defeated Rafael Alves by a unanimous decision. One year later, ‘Qazaq’ secured the best win of his career by beating Guram Kutateldze with a split decision.
Ismagulov ended his UFC tenure with a loss against rising contender Arman Tsarukyan. The 31-year-old is ending his career as the number twelve-ranked UFC lightweight. Although ‘Qazaq’ had UFC world champion potential, health always comes first. He is retiring with an overall record of 24-2.