Khabib Nurmagomedov believes Tony Ferguson is deserving of being the #1 contender for the lightweight championship, excluding Khabib’s UFC 242 opponent, Dustin Poirier, of course. But if Tony Ferguson does compete again prior to that potential title shot, either by choice or by force, Nurmagomedov has just the opponent for him to do so against, and his name is not Donald Cerrone:
“Tony vs. Gaethje, this is interesting fight,” Khabib said in a recent interview with ESPN. “If he don’t want to wait to end of the year, why not? UFC can make Gaethje vs. Tony, co-main event in Abu Dhabi. It’s gonna be a good fight, good for pay per view, I think. It’s just my opinion. But if he want to wait, he deserves this.
“Co-main event, Justin vs. Tony, main event, me vs. Dustin, winner fights winner end of the year,” Khabib proposed.
Tony Ferguson last competed at UFC 238 earlier this month where he defeated Donald Cerrone via doctor’s stoppage at the end of the second round. Unfortunately, Ferguson landed a late strike at the end of the round, which caused a stir inside the arena and affected the optics of what was a clear victory for Ferguson. Ferguson has expressed an openness to rematching Cerrone to clean up the ugly last image of the fight: the final blow.
Of course, Ferguson would love to be next in line for the world title as well, his incredible run of 12 consecutive victories makes that an easy case to make. In fact, the thought of Tony Ferguson not receiving a title shot next is considered ire-worthy to many fans of the sport. But if you were to tell these same fans that the postponement of this title shot was to activate Khabib’s matchmaking of Ferguson/Gaethje and Khabib/Poirier in a mini-lightweight tournament at UFC 242, I’d imagine many of the previously outraged fans would have their anger alleviated by soothing visions of Ferguson/Gaethje violence.
What do you think of Khabib’s idea of Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje being booked on the same card as Khabib/Poirier at UFC 242?