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With Michael Johnson sidelined, UFC now targets Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov for April

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Tony Ferguson and Michael Johnson were expected to run it back at the upcoming UFC 197 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place on March 5, 2016 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Not happening.

Johnson was forced to bail on their 155-pound rematch for undisclosed reasons; however, "El Cucuy" is still in the mix after matchmakers asked him to fight top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is expected to return from a lengthy injury layoff in April.

MMA Fighting reported the change on Tuesday night.

Ferguson (20-3) is riding an impressive seven-fight win streak and could earn a crack at the crown if he's able to pass this final test. Working in his favor is the fact that Nurmagomedov (22-0) hasn't seen action in nearly two years thanks to a bum knee.

They were originally expected to throw down last December and with any luck, can help the lightweight title picture come together before the end of spring.

When and where they compete are still to be determined, but initial reports have them slotted for UFC on FOX 19 on April 16 at a venue and city to be determined.

Stay tuned.

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