Daniel Cormier tweeted something peculiar about Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov

UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier had an interesting conversation today with Khabib Nurmagomedov and shared the details on Twitter.

According to Cormier, the UFC tried to book lightweight contender Nurmagomedov opposite interim champion Tony Ferguson at UFC 219. Ferguson, however, declined (via Twitter).

So I walk into the gym today and @khabib_nurmagomedov walks up and says the @Ufc is wanting to make me vs @tonyfergusonxtfor 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!!!!

Purely speculating here, but before the Cris Cyborg-Holly Holm title fight got booked last week, my guess is the UFC tossed some Hail Mary’s in hopes of booking a main-event worthy fight for the Dec. 30 pay-per-view in Las Vegas. Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov was one of those desperation inquiries, even though Nurmagomedov is already booked against Edson Barboza on the card.

And whereas Nurmagomedov was game, Ferguson wasn’t – and for good reason.

Why would Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) defend an interim belt against Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) when a potential title-unifying “money fight” with champion Conor McGregor is right in front of him? And why would Ferguson even want to fight Nurmagomedov after what happened earlier this year, with Khabib being forced out of their UFC 209 interim title fight because of a bad weight cut?

Ferguson declining the fight might not be “gangsta,” but accepting it also wouldn’t have been very smart, either.

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Edson Barboza hears your jokes about Nurmagomedov's injuries and McGregor's belt

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SAO PAULO – Edson Barboza got his desired fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. Then he got flooded with a whole lot of jokes about his UFC 219 opponent’s injury and ailment woes.

No worries, Barboza said. He expects the fight to go on as planned.

“Definitely not,” he told MMAjunkie when asked if he’s concerned about the fight falling apart. “I know injuries happen all the time. I think I’ve never fought 100 percent with my body in my life. Something always happens. Always, every fight I have some injuries, but they’re not too bad.

“It happens. … Maybe I can get hurt in camp. It happens with everybody.”

As he announced on Friday at fan Q&A prior to UFC Fight Night 119 weigh-ins, Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4) meets Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) at UFC 219. The year-end pay-per-view event takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Nurmagomedov is No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, and Barboza is No. 6. So it very well could be a title-eliminator that propels the victor to a title shot.

That, of course, is assuming the fight stays intact. Nurmagomedov hasn’t fought since November 2016, when he defeated Michael Johnson at UFC 205. It’s one of just two fights he’s had since 2014 due to Nurmagomedov’s string of injuries, as well as a UFC 209 weight cut that cost him a fight with now-interim champ Tony Ferguson.

Is Barboza worried about his opponent’s track record of scratches?

“I’m not scared about this,” said Barboza, who’s also on the mend following a shoulder injury that’s kept him out of the cage since a flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in March. ” … I always train very hard. For sure (Nurmagomedov) trains very hard, and sometimes it happens. I can’t do anything. If you don’t train, you can’t get hurt. But like me, I train hard all the time, and he trains hard.

“I hope (injuries don’t) happen with me and him.”

As for the Barboza vs. Nurmagomedov winner?

Barboza said it makes sense that the victor will get a title shot. But will it be against reigning champ Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who recently had a blockbuster boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather and is considering other options such as a rubber match with Nate Diaz?

Or will it be against ever-busy interim titleholder Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC), who recently defeated Kevin Lee for his 10th straight victory – all of which have taken place since late 2013?

“I just think about me,” Barboza said. “I don’t think about the other guys. Like I said, for me, in my opinion, Ferguson is the champ. Tony Ferguson is the true champ for the UFC lightweights.”

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov set for UFC 219 in Las Vegas

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The year-end UFC 219 event has a new major addition.

Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) today announced he’s fighting fellow lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) at the event.

UFC officials subsequently made a formal announcement (via Twitter):

UFC 219 takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been set.

Nurmagomedov is No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, and Barboza is No. 6.

“I have a big announcement for you guys: I will fight on Dec. 30, Las Vegas, against Khabib Nurmagomedov,” Barboza said today at a Q&A prior to today’s UFC Fight Night 119 ceremonial weigh-ins in Sao Paulo. “I know it’s going to be a big war. You guys know I love war, so definitely be ready for this, guys. I hope you guys don’t blink. This fight is going to be a big war. I’m ready for this.”

Barboza, a 31-year-old Brazilian, has been a longtime contender at 155 pounds, though he’s previously struggled in key bouts that cost him potential title shots. However, this will surely be another crucial opportunity for him thanks to his current three-fight winning streak, which includes a recent flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in March.

Barboza, who’s now recovered from a shoulder injury, recently called for a fight with Nurmagomedov – likely knowing a victory could earn him his long-awaited first UFC title shot.

Barboza, though, has to hope the often-injured Nurmagomedov stays healthy enough to get to the fight, where the 29-year-old Russian looks for his ninth straight UFC victory and 25th consecutive win overall.

Nurmagomedov, a dangerous wrestler and sambo champion, hasn’t fought since November 2016, when he scored a submission victory over Michael Johnson at UFC 205. It’s one of just two fights since 2014 due to Nurmagomedov’s string of injuries, as well as a UFC 209 weight cut that went awry.

Assuming Nurmagomedov stays healthy and makes it to UFC 219, striker Barboza doesn’t expect ground specialist Nurmagomedov to present any issues on the mat – assuming he can get the bout there.

“It’s no secret (Nurmagomedov is a ground specialist),” Barboza told a fan at today’s Q&A. “Everyone knows my game. For them to see my jiu-jitsu, they have to take me down. Let’s see if he’ll succeed.”

The latest UFC 219 card includes:

  • Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza
  • Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka
  • Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny
  • Khalil Rountree vs. Gokhan Saki
  • Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury
  • Emil Meek vs. Kamaru Usman
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Edson Barboza accepts UFC 219 fight vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov: 'It's on him now'

As UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor continues to plot his next move – be it a return to MMA or a boxing match with Paulie Malignaggi – things at the top of the division continue to fall into place.

Tony Ferguson won the interim title earlier this month after submitting Kevin Lee at UFC 216. Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje, ranked Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, in the official UFC rankings, are set to square off Dec. 2 at UFC 218.

And now it appears another booking of top contenders could be close.

On Tuesday, Edson Barboza said during an Instagram Live stream that he’s accepted an offer from the UFC to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov on Dec. 30 at UFC 219 in Las Vegas. The onus, Barboza says, is now on “The Eagle.”

“They offered me this fight, and I accepted it,” Barboza said, via MMAFighting.com. “I said I’ll be ready for December 30th, and it’s on him now. We’ll see what he does. I saw an interview with him yesterday, and he said he’ll fight me if Conor fights Ferguson, and (UFC President) Dana (White) already said that fight will happen, so I believe my next fight will be against Khabib.”

Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC), now recovered from shoulder surgery, told MMAjunkie earlier this month that a fight with Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) makes sense, all things considered. Barboza has won three straight, most recently scoring a flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in March at UFC Fight Night 106. He’s been adamant in his belief that McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) isn’t a real champion. McGregor, who lost an August boxing match to Floyd Mayweather via TKO, hasn’t defended his title since winning it from Alvarez last November at UFC 205.

Nurmagomedov said in September he expected to fight the Ferguson-Lee winner. Ferguson, naturally, prefers a title-unification bout with McGregor.

While Barboza said he’d also be content with a shot at Ferguson’s interim title, it appears he’s got his sights set on the undefeated Nurmagomedov and will be satisfied if the fight is made official.

“He’s definitely one of the best in the division,” Barboza told MMAjunkie. “I think this fight really makes sense for me. I’m ready. If the UFC books this fight, I’m ready.”

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Paulie Malignaggi says discussions underway for Conor McGregor fight and PLEASE GOD NO

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According to former boxing champ Paulie Malignaggi, discussions are underway for a potential fight with sparring partner-turned bitter rival Conor McGregor.

“I know Al Haymon’s talking with Dana White,” Malignaggi told Fight Hype. “I know they’re speaking, so if they want the fight they’ll make it.”

Dear god, let us hope they do not want the fight. Let us do more than hope. Let us offer up blood sacrifices to avoid this fate. Let us throw a virgin into a volcano and slaughter a goat on the first fine market day. Let us seize the property of those who would advocate for such a fight, then gather their belongings in the town square and set them ablaze. Let us never relent.

On some level, sure, I get it. Malignaggi sniffs a payday. He has an image to maintain. He has a very personal grudge against McGregor that has at times drifted into restraining order territory. He has a very distinct way of pronouncing the word “balls,” (boo-awls) and a corresponding love of saying it over and over again.

It’s not surprising that he wants this fight, but the powers that be must not let him have it. The reason is very simple: While a little bit of ridiculousness can be fun, too much is just plain stupid.

McGregor’s boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, for instance? Just absurd enough to be a good time, though even then we had to exercise extreme patience and suspend more than a little disbelief in order to enjoy it.

But another boxing match, especially against Malignaggi, all while his UFC lightweight title goes undefended? That’s the point where McGregor would drift hopelessly into self-parody.

And for what? I mean, money, sure. But there’s plenty of that to be found elsewhere. The UFC is desperate for McGregor’s return. MMA fans are, too. A better-than-expected performance against Mayweather likely only increased his star power, which means he could defend his UFC title against a coat rack right now and still break MMA pay-per-view records.

A boxing match with Malignaggi, on the other hand, would be a step backwards in every meaningful sense. It would be the lazy sequel to the breakout hit, the “Speed 2: Cruise Control” of combat sports matchups. And you know something? There’s a good reason Keanu Reeves turned that sequel down, and it’s because he has some sense.

Back in the UFC there are a plethora of options for McGregor’s next fight, ranging from the logical choices like Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov to the purely profit-driven possibilities like Nate Diaz or Georges St-Pierre.

All of them would be better ideas than another stupid boxing match against a lesser draw who’s been following McGregor around like a bad credit score ever since their fallout as sparring partners.

Fighters and promoters want to make money. Fans want to have some fun. But we can do all those things without being idiots about it.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Khabib Nurmagomedov to new interim UFC champ Tony Ferguson: 'You deserve this belt'

Khabib Nurmagomedov may have a tenuous history with Tony Ferguson, but that didn’t stop him from giving credit where it was due following the UFC 216 main event.

Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) claimed the interim UFC lightweight championship in Saturday’s headliner with a third-round submission of Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC). The victory capped off a 10-fight winning streak for “El Cucuy,” who was supposed to fight Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) for an interim title earlier this year.

Over the past several years Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have been booked to fight three times, but the matchup has never come to fruition. Countless words have been exchanged in the lead-up to those bouts, but even still, “The Eagle” was willing to give Ferguson his props (via Twitter):

Ferguson called out Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) in his post-fight interview at UFC 216, which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass. That fight seems possible for the future, but Nurmagomedov could be waiting in the wings as the next man up.

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Recovered from shoulder surgery, Edson Barboza wants a fight – but not just any fight

Considering Edson Barboza has had his sights set on an interim title shot for a while, one could certainly understand if watching UFC 216’s headliner is upsetting to him.

As it turns out, it’s not. In fact, Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC), who’s been vocally opposed to champ Conor McGregor’s (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) inactive reign since claiming the 155-pound crown, is glad to see the division moving along.

And though it’s Tony Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) who are fighting for interim honors Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Barboza thinks he’s not too far from his own taste of gold.

“I know I’m close to the title shot,” Barboza told MMAjunkie. “I know I will get my chance.”

Not that Barboza didn’t try to get the interim title shot. In fact, coming off a huge TKO win over Beneil Dariush, Barboza said he tried to convince UFC President Dana White and matchmaker Sean Shelby to have him meet Ferguson for a stab at the interim belt.

The fight would have served as a rematch for a “Fight of the Night” encounter in late 2015 at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale, which saw Barboza being submitted after stepping in on short notice. But UFC officials didn’t go for it.

The reason, however, wasn’t that Barboza hadn’t earned it – but rather because they knew he was dealing with a seriously injured shoulder that needed medical attention. Considering Barboza went on to have surgery, that was probably the right call. Still, he not only wanted to move forward with it. He was quite confident, too.

“I know if I fought him with a bad shoulder, I’d win the fight,” Barboza said.

Sounds a bit crazy, but it’s not like Barboza hasn’t fought while hurt before. He went into his most recent scrap with the same injury – or rather, four different injuries on the same shoulder – that kept him from both the Ferguson encounter and a talked-about meeting with Justin Gaethje.

At UFC Fight Night 106, Barboza overcame a tough first round to finish Dariush with a knee in the second. But the “Performance of the Night” win looks all the more impressive knowing what the Brazilian lightweight went through prior to it.

“A couple of weeks before, I started feeling my neck a little bit, going down to my left shoulder,” Barboza recalled. “I still worked hard. I was sparring with my training partner. He shot, I defended a takedown, and I heard my shoulder kept, ‘Pop, pop, pop.’ Crazy, crazy pops.

“I have the video. I ran to my head coach, said, ‘Mark, my shoulder popped.’ He said, ‘OK, you want to stop?’ I said, ‘No, let’s finish the round.’ I did three more rounds with the one arm.’”

On the way home, Barboza started really feeling the effects of what turned out to be a tore bicep tendon and a broken piece of bone – among other things. For two weeks, he says, he didn’t punch or lift weights. He even considered, at first, pulling out of the fight.

“But I’m a fighter, man,” Barboza said. “I love to fight. I try everything to fight.”

The decision paid off in the end, with Barboza adding a third win to a streak that features only respectable names like ex-champ Anthony Pettis and former Strikeforce titleholder Gilbert Melendez. But it also served as a huge test of Barboza’s grit.

“The first jab I threw, I said, ‘Man, that’s going to be a hard night,’” Barboza said. “Because it was so painful. The game plan (was) to throw a lot of the front hand, moving to my left side. And I couldn’t throw my left hand.

“That was the hardest fight of my career. Because I fought with one hand, very, very hard. And, like I said, Beneil is very tough. He gave me a hard time.”

After having surgery in Florida, Barboza says, he took six weeks off. Then, he started working “harder than ever” in physical therapy every day. The result was a recovery so swift that even his doctor marveled at it. Now, weeks after getting back to hard training, Barboza says he’s 100 percent pain-free and ready to go.

He’s even been calling his manager every day to get a fight. Not just any fight, though.

Edson Barboza

“I’m a fighter. I want to fight,” Barboza said. “But I’m not stupid. I want to fight somebody that really makes sense right now, get us a fight that put us closer to a title shot. Or on our way to get my chance to the title shot.

“Because I’m ready for this. I think I deserve it. I’ve been in the UFC for a long time. And I’m closer than ever to a title shot. I’m ready.”

Of course, Barboza is in the unfortunate position of being a UFC lightweight at a weird time. First, many wondered whether McGregor would ever return to MMA after his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. And now, even if he comes back, there’s a chance McGregor won’t fight the division’s interim champ – but engage on a lucrative trilogy with Nate Diaz instead.

While Barboza can’t predict what will happen next, he knows one thing: After taking on two high-risk fights that ultimately did nothing to advance him in the rankings, he wants someone ahead of him.

“My last two fights, I fought somebody behind me in the rankings,” Barboza said. “Very risky fights, very dangerous guys. But I was there fighting. I don’t care. I’ve improved all the time. I have almost 20 fights in the UFC. A couple of weeks ago, I saw the rankings. I fought seven guys in the top-15.

“I fought everybody. I think I deserve it. I really deserve to fight the No. 1 contender, or somebody in front of me. Or a title shot.”

Considering Barboza is currently ranked No. 4 in the official UFC rankings – and No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings – that doesn’t leave him too many options. Mairbek Taisumov. for instance, might just have to wait.

However, there is one man who not only fits the bill in both rankings, but doesn’t have a fight scheduled: undefeated, perennial contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC).

Some might see the Dagestani’s notoriously stifling wrestling game as a hazard to Barboza’s mostly striking-based movement. But the Brazilian, who’s quite into the matchup, isn’t fazed.

“He’s definitely one of the best in the division,” Barboza said. “I think this fight really makes sense for me. I’m ready. If the UFC books this fight, I’m ready.”

Of course, Barboza’s future also hinges on what happens with Saturday’s headliner. Although Nurmagomedov’s name is the one that most would point to as the next contender, the fact he’s been somewhat M.I.A. and even turned down a UFC 217 meeting with Ferguson could work in Barboza’s favor. Then there’s the chance McGregor fights Diaz.

Barboza is clear about wanting a title shot. But considering he doesn’t really see McGregor as the champion, he would have no problems meeting the division’s interim titleholder instead.

“That would be perfect,” Barboza said. “Like I said, if the UFC asks me to fight for the belt, for the real championship, I’d prefer to fight one of those guys. Because, like I said, McGregor for me is not the champion. He has the belt, but he’s not really the champ.”

If he does get his wish, and the interim champion is indeed next for him, Barboza believes that might just end up being a rematch.

“It’s going to be a fun fight,” Barboza said. “I think Tony Ferguson is going to win this fight. It’s hard to say that (Kevin Lee) doesn’t deserve it. He’s a great fighter, but he won just a couple of fights. Just his last fight, against (Michael) Chiesa, who’s a tough guy. But he fought nobody.

“I think Tony Ferguson is going to dominate this fight.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie rankings, Oct. 3: Who deserves the next shot at Conor McGregor?

At Saturday’s UFC 216 event, an interim UFC lightweight champion will be crowned. But is that person the one that deserves to challenge for the undisputed belt?

Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) currently holds that title, though he has yet to defend it since claiming the belt this past November. Meanwhile, both Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) – who challenge for the interim belt at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas – both believe a victory should earn them a shot at undisputed status.

Ferguson currently sits at No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings. Lee resides at No. 8, though a win would certainly see him shoot up the list.

Of course, undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) holds the No. 2 spot and has constantly promised he would smash McGregor if given the chance. And Nate Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) sits at No. 7, though his ranking is almost irrelevant when considering the type of attention a trilogy fight with McGregor would draw.

Ahead of this week’s UFC 216 event, take a look at how the lightweight rankings currently sit, because the results could prove vital in determining what comes next for “The Notorious.”

And give us your opinion below: Who does deserve the next crack at McGregor?

Take Our Poll
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Conor McGregor on Mayweather, state of UFC lightweight division, 'rat' Paulie Malignaggi

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Floyd Mayweather isn’t out of Conor McGregor’s system quite yet, but MMA is still on his mind.

The UFC lightweight champion talked about his “Money Fight,” his division’s title picture and took a few shots at former sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi today during a Q&A fan event in Glasgow, Scotland.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC, 0-1 boxing) entertained the idea of a rematch with Mayweather (50-0 boxing), telling fans the newly retired boxing kingpin’s spending habits – and tax troubles – might lead to a rematch.

With different training, McGregor boasted, he wouldn’t just win – it would be the easiest fight of his career, Daily Star reporter Chisanga Malata tweeted from the event at the SEC Armadillo auditorium.

The good news, McGregor said, is that he is still counting his money from the mega-event this past month in Las Vegas.

McGregor didn’t rule out a return to the octagon by year’s end, even though UFC President Dana White has already ruled it out.

McGregor’s longtime coach, John Kavanagh, recently predicted “The Notorious” won’t fight until 2018 – and is hopefull he’ll take on Nate Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) in a rubber match on St. Patrick’s Day.

But according to McGregor, that fight isn’t a lock. Diaz, he said, is likely to “price himself out” of a third fight.

A fight at the year-end UFC 219 would be fine, McGregor said, if he could simply weigh in and throw down, according to Irish Mirror and MMAFighting.com reporter Peter Carroll.

Another rival, former sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi (36-8 boxing), got an invitation to the octagon. McGregor reportedly called the ex-boxing champ – his former sparring partner for Mayweather – “a rat” and told him to “bring his balls” for a showdown in MMA.

Other opponents also beckon. McGregor said he’s looking forward to the upcoming interim lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC), which takes place next week at UFC 216, as well as the showdown of “The Ultimate Fighter 26” coaches Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and ex-champ Eddie Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC).

McGregor also mentioned the possibility of a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) in Russia, a matchup UFC President Dana White told MMAjunkie months ago was high on the champ’s list.

But in the end, McGregor indicated he would wait how the division shakes out before making a final decision.

“Let me see what these two fools do this weekend,” McGregor said of Ferguson vs. Lee.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC confirms Khabib Nurmagomedov was offered fight with Tony Ferguson at UFC 217

Filed under: News, UFC

Behind all the Twitter sparring between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, the UFC tried to book the pair a fourth time.

In the latest edition of the UFC’s “Watch List” series, UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby reveals the promotion offered Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) a fight with Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) at UFC 217. When Nurmagomedov didn’t take the fight, Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) got the spot, but next week as UFC 216’s headliner in Las Vegas.

“Just to clear things up, a fight was offered to Nurmagomedov on Nov. 4 (at UFC 217), and at that point, we were trying to put cards together toward the end of the year,” UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby told UFC commentator Jon Anik. “I was informed that (Nurmagomedov) could not make that date, and he probably wouldn’t be able to fight until at least December, so that left Tony without a dance partner.”

It’s not clear why Nurmagomedov couldn’t accept the booking for the pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden in New York City. His longtime manager Ali Abdelaziz did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, the undefeated fighter shifted gears after attacking Ferguson, humbly requesting the winner of the interim lightweight title bout.

Shelby indicated Lee got the golden opportunity because the UFC couldn’t wait for Nurmagomedov.

“We backed Tony up, and Kevin Lee was there,” Shelby said. “Look at his resume as of late. He’s a phenomenal fighter. He’s doing fantastic. Right now, I think he’s the hottest thing in the division.”

When the fight was made, Nurmagomedov and Ferguson traded accusations as to who was at fault for their fourth ill-fated booking. Ferguson said Nurmagomedov’s manager told the UFC that Nurmagomedov wasn’t well enough to fight, and Nurmagomedov claimed Ferguson wouldn’t accept the bout.

UFC President Dana White simply said Nurmagomedov was “not ready.”

But now, Lee will get the chance to upset the balance in the lightweight division. Now on a five-fight win streak, he’s due for the toughest step up in competition against Ferguson, who’s won his past nine bouts.

Potentially waiting for the winner is undisputed champ Conor McGregor, an opponent who guarantees a lucrative payday for the challenger.

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie