Khabib Nurmagomedov may be fighting interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson at UFC 223 on April 7 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., but is he going to be competing for the real 155-pound title?
Fight fans have wondered about this very thing since Ferguson vs. Khabib was booked and pegged as an undisputed title fight. Current UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor has yet to be officially stripped of his title due to inactivity, but that hasn’t stopped the promotion from moving forward with his championship.
In fact, Khabib’s contract for UFC 223 states that he will be fighting Ferguson for the undisputed 155-pound belt, which would have to taken off McGregor’s waist to happen.
“We’re gonna fight for his belt,” Khabib told TMZ Sports (shown above). “The UFC will strip his belt, and now we’re gonna fight for the real belt.”
“I have a contract, like, real belt,” explained Khabib. “What are they gonna do? They only have one real belt. They have the interim belt, and they have the real belt.”
“They sent me the contract. We’re gonna fight Tony Ferguson for the real belt. They (can) strip McGregor’s belt or not, (but) I have a contract. Real belt.”
The undefeated Russian sensation added that he believes the promotion will “100%” strip McGregor of his title. It only makes sense, especially considering “Notorious” hasn’t fought inside of the Octagon since November 2016 and doesn’t plan on returning to action until later this year.
“When was the last time Conor competed in MMA? I forget about this,” Khabib said. “He’s a boxing guy now. He’s (better off) to stay in boxing, because you have to compete in MMA, like wrestling, grappling, conditioning (for) 25 minutes, it’s different.”
“When (is he coming back)?” he continued. “They’re talking about (another) Floyd Mayweather fight. I don’t know, I don’t think he’s gonna come back.”
If Nurmagomedov is able to end Ferguson’s 10-fight win streak and hoist lightweight gold at UFC 223 he will line up a gigantic fight opposite McGregor in the second half of 2018, assuming “Notorious” doesn’t hit a contract snag.
And if everything goes as planned, the two will meet on Russian soil for the first time in UFC history.