We are officially one month away from one of the biggest UFC lightweight title fights in recent memory, as current interim champion Tony Ferguson and undefeated Russian sensation Khabib Nurmagomedov duke it out for Conor McGregor’s real title at UFC 223 on April 7 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The matchup between “El Cucuy” and “Eagle” has already been made on three separate occasions, yet each and every time the lightweight bout seems to fall through. We’re quickly approaching UFC 223 and fight fans are hoping the fourth time is a charm and both fighters make it to Brooklyn.
Needless to say, this is a huge fight for the 155-pound division. Ferguson is currently riding a 10-fight win streak, which includes a recent submission win over Kevin Lee to claim the interim strap, while Nurmagomedov brings with him a nine-fight win streak and an overall MMA record of 25-0. It’s a clash between two of the most dominant lightweights of the past five years and a title fight that means a ton to the division and its direction moving forward.
“Only four weeks before fight, tough opponent, real belt on the line,” Nurmagomedov said in a recent interview with Kevin Iole. “Ten win streak versus nine win streak. UFC never make this fight. 25 years UFC history, they never make fight like this fight. This is high level fight. This is going to be very good for fans, for guy who gonna take this belt, UFC gonna make money. Everyone gonna be happy because this fight very high level fight and this fight most important fight in UFC today.”
Nurmagomedov, who made his UFC debut back in 2012, would have fought for a UFC title a long time ago if not for some health issues from 2014-2016. Having McGregor take his talents to the boxing ring opposite Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year certainly didn’t help the Russian’s cause either. But with McGregor on hiatus for the time being, Khabib can finally get the big-time championship showdown that he’s been waiting for.
“First of all it’s about real belt, this is not interim championship, this is not Tony Ferguson belt, this is not Conor McGregor belt, this is real belt,” said Nurmagomedov. “I’m not going to fight Tony Ferguson fake belt. I’m not going to fight Conor McGregor belt when he win this fight almost three years ago. I’m going to fight real belt and this is big motivation. Five round, big fight. We are supposed to fight three times now.”
“I’m going to make this fight easy,” Nurmagomedov continued. “People gonna talk about this fight, ‘Wow, nobody do this before with Tony Ferguson.’ Like I do with Michael Johnson, like I do Rafael dos Anos, like I do with Edson Barboza, with everybody. Who beat them like this? I’m gonna do this again with Tony Ferguson.”
If Nurmagomedov is able to end Ferguson’s ridiculous win streak and walk away with the undisputed title on April 7 the case can be made that he’s the greatest lightweight of all time. A victory for Khabib could also set up a huge title fight with McGregor this fall in Russia (presumably).
UFC 223 will also feature a co-main event title fight pitting current women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas against former 115-pound queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who lost to “Thug” via first-round knockout back at UFC 217.
For more UFC 223 fight card news click here.