With it now being over a year since we have seen UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor clinched that title at UFC 205 and it appears as though it will be at least mid-2018 before we see him defend the belt, it is fair to say that the division feels like it is being held up.
In the meantime, Tony Ferguson has been crowned the interim champion of the weight-class with a win over Kevin Lee at UFC 215. For that reason, and considering the fact that ‘El Cucuy’ is now riding a ten-fight win streak in what is one of the most stacked with strength in depth divisions in MMA’s top promotion, all roads pointed towards a Conor-Tony showdown to unify the belts.
Fans still await confirmation that McGregor’s next venture in the fight game will indeed be the first defence of his 155lb crown. Since his foray into professional boxing back in August and the subsequent monumental payday which came with such, the Irishman has been slow to commit to anything as well as finding himself in his fair share of controversy.
The public use of a homophobic slur for which he apologised and the unsavoury, out-of-control antics at Bellator 187 have somewhat marred Conor’s image in the sport of late. There is no question that he would be better off signing a fight deal and letting his skills inside the Octagon do the taking sooner rather than later.
While we wait for that to happen, the show must go on in the lightweight division.
Speculation swirled this week that a Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov showdown was in the works for UFC 219. The December 30 card will mark the end of what Dana White has described as the “biggest” year in the UFC’s history as a company and the intention is to go out with a bang. As we wait for the return of the ‘Notorious’ one, a clash between Khabib and Tony presumably with the 155lb interim strap on the line would certainly provide that.
Although the pair have been scheduled to meet three times in the past and the bout has never come to fruition, most recently seen at UFC 209 earlier this year with Nurmagomedov’s last minute withdrawal due to weight-cutting issues, it is still a fight most MMA fans would love to see.
Check out the back and forth both fighters have been sharing over the last few days as the rumour mill about a potential attempt to make the pair finally square off at UFC 219 began turning. Even ‘The Eagle’s’ teammate Daniel Cormier chipped in with his say.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) November 22, 2017
So I walk into the gym today and @khabib_nurmagomedov walks up and says the @Ufc is wanting to make me vs @tonyfergusonxt for dec 30. Then he tells me that tony is saying no to the fight. Come on Tony, that ain’t gangsta bruh. Take the fight man!!!! pic.twitter.com/PCyjdAxIF3
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) November 22, 2017
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) November 24, 2017
.Listen Ya Fragile Fatass, The Last Time We Tried To Fight That Hat Of Yours Collected Cobwebs. How 'Bout Ya Take A Number… Make Weight, Show Up & Shut Up. Who's Irrelevant Now? 🖕🏽😎 -Thee MF'n Champ 🇺🇸🏆🇲🇽 #SnapDownCityBitch SnapJitsu™#TeamTiramisu4L #Towel7 #JustSayNo https://t.co/WDrHDewtZT
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) November 26, 2017
So, where does this correspondence leave the likelihood of us seeing this matchup take place on the UFC’s end-of-year event? Not likely.
One thing, however, is for sure. The sooner we get to see Conor, Tony and Khabib back in action in the cage rather than in interviews and social media, the better.