UFC President Dana White, who recently said the fight would be booked, today told Boston’s “Toucher and Rich” show that interim lightweight titleholder Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) are indeed booked for the April event (via Twitter):
“That fight is going to happen,” White said. “It will happen.”
UFC 223 takes place April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
As MMAjunkie reported this past weekend, White said following UFC Fight Night 124 that the organization was “working on” booking the fight – and that primary lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) would be stripped of his belt as a result. Ferguson and Nurmagomedov are now expected to fight for that undisputed title.
“If he comes back in September, that’s almost two years (since his last MMA fight),” White said this past weekend of McGregor, who hasn’t fought since his 2017 boxing blockbuster with Floyd Mayweather. “That can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else.
“Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything that he’s done for this company. Everybody knows that. I say it all the time. (But) the belt would have to move on. You do Khabib vs. Tony; we’re working on that fight now. If and when Conor comes back, he would get the first crack at the title.”
Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have been booked against each other three prior times without a fight actually materializing. After each pulled out of one scheduled bout due to injury, Ferguson, No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, and No. 3 Nurmagomedov were most recently signed to fight each other at UFC 209 in March 2016. The fight for the then-vacant interim title fell apart on weigh-in day, though, when Nurmagomedov was hospitalized after a failed weight cut.
Ferguson subsequently beat Kevin Lee for the belt. Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, made a successful return to the octagon this past month at UFC 219, where he dominated fellow contender Edson Barboza for a decisive decision victory.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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