Friday, August 19, 2022

Five Reasons Why Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov Has to be Next

The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) lightweight division is in an interesting spot.

For starters, the division has two champions. Conor McGregor is recognized as the main 155-pound title holder, while Tony Ferguson was crowned the interim champion back in Oct. 2017. A big holdup in the division is the fact that McGregor hasn’t competed inside the Octagon since Nov. 2016. Barack Obama was still the President of the United States.

Then there’s Khabib Nurmagomedov. While McGregor was preparing for a “money fight” against Floyd Mayweather, “The Eagle” was vying for a comeback fight. Nurmagomedov also hadn’t fought in a mixed martial arts bout since Nov. 2016. The grappling wizard from Dagestan dominated Edson Barboza last month.

UFC president Dana White claimed that McGregor is looking at a return in September. White said if things play out that way, then the “Notorious” one will be stripped of his lightweight crown and Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov would be contested for the undisputed gold.

That brings us to our list. Here are five reasons why Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov has to happen next:

Conor McGregor
Image Credit: Getty Images

5. Conor McGregor’s Inactivity

Whoever said “The Champ is Here,” clearly hasn’t met McGregor. The “Notorious” one defeated Eddie Alvarez to claim the 155-pound gold and then he disappeared from the Octagon. In 2017, the sports world was dominated by the McGregor vs. Mayweather hype train. The bout was contested inside a boxing ring back in August.

Rather than making a title defense for the final card of the year or even at UFC 220 this Saturday night (Jan. 20), McGregor decided to take an ongoing break from competition. The decision has brought on criticism from fans. Many have blasted White for allowing the Irish sensation to hold onto his title.

Meanwhile, the interim champion is still wondering what his next fight will be. If White were it to go against his word on stripping McGregor, then “El Cucuy” would’ve waited 11 months to get a title unification bout. The lightweight division simply can’t be held up for much longer.

Tony Ferguson Khabib Nurmagomedov
Image Credit: Juan Cardenas/Zuffa LLC

4. Over Two Years In The Making

We have a matchless rivalry between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov. The sad part is, the bout has been booked three times. Even worse, this bout was booked three years in a row.

The two were set to meet back in Dec. 2015, but Nurmagomedov suffered an injury. It was rebooked for March the following year, but this time Ferguson had a lung issue. Then in March 2017, the two were once again scheduled for a match-up but Nurmagomedov was rushed to the hospital before he could weigh in.

Moral of the story is, this fight needs to happen. It is advised that you don’t believe the fight will take place until the two are actually inside the Octagon.

Tony Ferguson
Image Credit: Getty Images

3. The Champ Actually Is Here

While McGregor has been inactive on the MMA front, the same can’t be said for Ferguson. The interim lightweight title holder only had one fight in 2017, but as mentioned before his March bout went awry. “El Cucuy” is also ready for an undisputed title bout against McGregor or Nurmagomedov.

McGregor is biding his time until September, but Nurmagomedov’s father has said his son and Ferguson may be headed for a title bout in April. You can almost guarantee that Ferguson won’t be distracted by a potential boxing match to get in the way of a UFC title bout.

If the UFC were to wait until September for a unification bout, then it would take the division 21 months to restore some order. Having two inactive champions or an interim title defense in between certainly isn’t ideal.

Khabib Nurmagomedov
Image Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

2. Time For ‘The Eagle’ To Fly

Nurmagomedov has had some setbacks, but all of them have been outside of MMA competition. His perfect 25-0 record is not to be taken lightly. “The Eagle” has beaten some stern opposition in Barboza, Rafael dos Anjos, and Michael Johnson just to name a few. He shined in all of those fights, putting on grappling clinics.

With the injuries and weight cutting issues, Nurmagomedov has yet to receive a title shot. It’s long overdue for the undefeated lightweight. Had he stayed healthy, many believe he’d be the reigning 155-pound king today.

Olympic Stadium
Image Credit: Alexander Savin via Wikimedia Commons

1. The Push For Russia

It’s no secret that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has toyed with the idea of holding an event in Russia. Years ago, fans had clamored for the promotion to sign heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko. The thought was that “The Last Emperor” would be the only fighter to sell out a stadium show in the country.

That was before Nurmagomedov entered the fold. “The Eagle” is leaps and bounds ahead of lightweight competition from around the world. If he can defeat Ferguson, it would put the Russian fighter over the top and he’d be in prime position to sellout a stadium show in the country.

Staff members from Olympic Stadium told RT Sport that the UFC has booked two shows for September in the venue. While there is no guarantee that he will defeat “El Cucuy,” the potential of Nurmagomedov walking into a Russia stadium to defend a title is too good to pass up.

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