By News Team
9th April 2020
With Khabib Nurmagomedov forced to withdraw from the upcoming UFC 249 event on April 18, his fight with Tony Ferguson has now been postponed on an amazing five separate occasions.
Stylistically it’s one of the best match-ups, not just in the lightweight division, but in MMA today. Khabib’s ground and pound has proved devastatingly against the likes of Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, but Ferguson is arguably stronger on his back than he is on the feet and will have no qualms in taking on the Russian’s wrestling skills.
Yet after five cancellations, is Khabib against Ferguson destined to be known as the greatest UFC fight that never happened? We look back at the story so far.
Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale
Already regarded as one of the best lightweights on the planet, Khabib (22-0 at the time) had not fought since April 2014 due to several serious injuries. With UFC looking to reintegrate the Russian, the bout with Ferguson was first set for the Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale in December 2015.
However, just six weeks before the bout, Khabib was forced to withdraw with a rib injury that left him questioning his UFC career. Ferguson was instead forced to fight Edson Barboza, submitting the Brazilian with a D’Arce choke in the second round.
UFC on Fox 19
With the Khabib-Ferguson match rescheduled for April 2016 at UFC on Fox 19, UFC fans once again reached fever-pitch ahead of the mouth-watering match-up. However, this time, just 11 days before the event, Ferguson announced that he had a fluid build-up in his lungs and would be unable to compete.
Khabib would instead go on to fight and beat Darrell Horcher by TKO to extend his unbeaten record to 23-0.
Following his victory over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, Conor McGregor became the lightweight champion, with both Ferguson and Khabib holding legitimate claims to be the next in line to fight the Irishman.
It was the perfect opportunity to rearrange the bout and it was set for the UFC 209 main event in March 2017. But following issues with his weight-cut, Khabib was admitted to hospital and forced to pull out of the fight once again.Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley would instead fight Stephen Thompson in the main event, leaving UFC fans once again clamouring for this eagerly-awaited clash.
Ferguson would win the interim lightweight belt at UFC 216, submitting Kevin Lee in the third round, once again setting up the bout with Khabib, this time for the vacant lightweight championship.
Once again, though, the MMA gods were not smiling. As Ferguson prepared for the fight, he attended a promotional event for the UFC, where he fell over a lighting cable, rupturing his fibular collateral ligament.
Khabib would instead fight Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in April 2018, claiming the vacant belt with a dominant five-round decision victory.
Following the latest cancellation, after Khabib pulled out earlier this month, Ferguson is now set to fight the dangerous Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 for the interim lightweight title on April 18. The winner will, therefore, set up a title match with Khabib in the near future.