A mouth-watering statement has raised the possibility of a fight that would go a long way to setting the lightweight division in the right direction.
Although the shark tank that is the 155 pound division already has two champions – interim belt holder Tony Ferguson and lineal champion Conor McGregor, it has appeared increasingly likely that Khabib Nurmagomedov will feature in the next lightweight title fight.
Since his dominant win over Edson Barboza at UFC 219 last month, the Dagestani has been the talk of the MMA world.
A fight for the interim championship has been floated about – two bouts with Ferguson have been cancelled due to injuries over the past few years. Even a contest with Conor McGregor is a distinct option, despite El Cucuy’s status as the official challenger to the Irishman.
Per Russian journalist Adam Zubayraev, the UFC have decided a time, place and opponent for the undefeated Khabib.
“Khabib will be fighting with Ferguson on April 7 in the New York, Zabit Magomedsharipov will also participate in this tournament,” he wrote.
Khabib will be fighting with Ferguson on April 7 in the New York, Zabit Magomedsharipov will also participate in this tournment. #ufc
— Adam Zubayraev (@AdamZubayraev) January 14, 2018
April 7 would herald UFC 223 (with 222: Holloway v. Edgar taking place on March 3), and though a venue hasn’t been officially announced, the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York is the likely arena for the reported Khabib v. Tony extravaganza.
Though Zubayraev hasn’t had any articles attributed to him for the online edition of Sport Express Russia, which is the largest sports publication in the country, since 2015, he is verified by Twitter, and does state that fellow dangerous Dagestani Zabit Magomedsharipov will also feature on the UFC 223 card.
What such a fight and date would mean for McGregor’s status as overall champion is fascinating.
The ever-lenient UFC president, Dana White, relented in the aftermath of Khabib’s recent win, stating that if ‘The Notorious’ wasn’t ready by March, a Khabib/Tony fight would be for the main belt. Given the Dubliner’s star power however, it’s a likely scenario that if Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were to fight less than three months for now, the UFC would allow McGregor to hold onto his belt for promotional purposes.
If this is the ‘big news’ that Khabib himself promised during the week, we won’t have long to wait for confirmation.