Fifth times the charm for Ferguson v Nurmagomedov

After Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov submitted Dustin Poirier in the third round at the Ultimate Fight Championship 242 main event, Tony “El CuCuy” Ferguson, the number one lightweight contender, called out Nurmagomedov to accept a fight against him or vacate the belt.

Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov was scheduled by the UFC four times to headline a fight card and all four times the event managed to fall through and get cancelled. In 2015, the two fighters were supposed to face off at The Ultimate Fighter 22 finale but Nurmagomedov called out due to a rib injury. A rematch was rescheduled in April 2016, but it never made a card due to an undisclosed injury from Ferguson. 

Never accepting to go three for three, hours before weigh-ins at UFC 209 Nurmagomedov was rushed to the hospital due to weight cut related issues. Fast forward a year later and a vacated lightweight title, the two were scheduled for UFC 223. But a few days before the bout, Ferguson tripped over a cord and tore his LCL, and was stripped of his interim Championship title.

The UFC’s decision to strip Ferguson of the interim title was solely done to “keep the division moving”, Feuguson’s LCL injury was a huge freak accident, while walking to a mandatory press conference he tripped when he turned his head to say hello to someone in the building.

So when the now 28-0 Nurmagomedov is in talks for his next title defense, the only name that should come up is Tony Ferguson. With no disrespect to Dustin Poirier who won the interim belt after a stellar performance against Max Holloway, Ferguson is still the lightweight interim champ and has all rights to demand a title shot. When he held the title, Ferguson was an active fighter and hasn’t lost a fight since 2012 putting him on a 12 fight win streak and holding the most consecutive wins in the lightweight division.  

Stylistically the fight would be a true joy for any fight fan. Nurmagomedov, who is the epitome of a grappling specialist, compared to Ferguson’s erratic stand-up game and unorthodox style of jiu-jitsu. It would leave viewers betting on either Ferguson getting choked out or Nurmagomedov being taken to snap city.   

Since Connor McGregor announced his return to the UFC on October 24, fight promoters will try to push a rematch between McGregor and Nurmagomedov. But McGregor was inactive for three years and lost his last two fights. This places him in a position where he needs to step up before he’s given a title shot.  

UFC 246 would be a good time frame for the fighters since everyone left their last fights with relatively zero injuries … even UFC 247 would work. Neither cards have a line-up or main event and the names of the two fighters carry more than enough weight to promote the event.