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Dana White: Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov planned for UFC 223 with Conor McGregor benched (Updated)

Esther Lin

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion, Conor McGregor, is expected to surrender his strap — with or without his consent — so that Tony Ferguson can battle Khabib Nurmagomedov for the 155-pound title.

“El Cucuy” currently holds the interim belt.

The official announcement is expected to take place at the UFC 220 pay-per-view (PPV) event this Sat. night (Jan. 20, 2018) inside TD Garden Center in Boston, Mass., likely before the “Miocic vs. Ngannou” main event.

Russian news site TASS was first to reveal the news and while Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz told ESPN that details are still being finalized, promotion president Dana White confirmed the booking for UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York, expected to happen on April 7.

“That fight is going to happen,” White told Toucher & Rich morning show in Boston. “It will happen.”

While we’ve heard that several times in the past, only to have the fight fall apart, the timing would work out perfectly, assuming this date is accurate.

McGregor has not competed since taking the title from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in late 2016. His reign was temporarily suspended while he dabbled in the “sweet science,” followed by an ultimatum when “Notorious” failed to commit to a 2018 return.

Ferguson, meanwhile, turned away Kevin Lee to get his hands on the substitute strap, while Nurmagomedov punched his dog shit ticket to the top of the 155-pound mountain by crushing Edson Barboza.

No official word yet on whether Ferguson-Nurmagomedov will be for “El Cucuy’s” interim strap, or the undisputed title with McGregor stripped.

We’ll find out in just a few days.