It’s been a long time coming but it looks like UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s next title defense will come against Tony Ferguson.
While that has seemed like the most logical choice ever since Nurmagomedov submitted Conor McGregor last October, there were still doubts about the fight actually happening.
One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way was Nurmagomedov’s pending hearing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission that went down earlier this week.
Nurmagomedov was ultimately suspended for nine months — with a three-month reduction down to six months if he completes an approved anti-bullying public service announcement — and fined $500,000 for his role in the UFC 229 post fight brawl.
That clears the way for the undefeated Russian champion to book his next title defense and UFC president Dana White says that it should come against Ferguson rather than a potential rematch against McGregor.
White has said he anticipates Nurmagomedov and McGregor meeting again, but not until after each of them gets another win against a different opponent first.
“He’s going to have his suspension,” White said about Nurmagomedov when speaking to ESPN. “What I think needs to happen is Khabib versus Tony Ferguson, do Conor [McGregor] and ‘Cowboy’ [Donald Cerrone] and if they both come out of that, we do the rematch.”
White has previously hinted as a potential showdown between McGregor and Cerrone after those two fighters have exchanged messages over social media for the past two weeks.
The matchup between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson has been scheduled several times in the past but injuries and weight cutting issues have doomed that fight from actually happening.
Now it appears the UFC is ready to roll the dice one more time in hopes that Nurmagomedov and Ferguson can finally do battle inside the Octagon later this year.