Sure, a lot of people are hyped about Conor McGregor’s return against Donald Cerrone. But the real fight aficionado knows that Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is the real steak over sizzle coming into 2020. Khabib and Tony are undeniably the best two lightweights in the world and to see them battle over the 155 pound strap after four failed attempts is a fight fan’s dream come true.
But there are still questions on whether the match will come together. The UFC has sent a bout agreement to Khabib for Ferguson, and Khabib’s agent posted a picture of Nurmagomedov’s signed copy. Yet we have heard precious little from Ferguson and his team. Based on everything we know about the UFC, we imagine they have very specific ideas about how much “El Cucuy” deserves for the privilege of a title fight. And after 12 wins in a row, Ferguson’s team undoubtedly wants their due too. It all leads to a situation where we could be robbed of a Khabib vs. Ferguson showdown yet again for financial reasons.
Any failed fight negotiations won’t be for lack of trying, though. According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Tony and his management have flown to Las Vegas to meet with the UFC.
Update: Tony Ferguson and his reps from Ballengee Group are flying to Vegas to meet with UFC execs this evening, to discuss the targeted title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in April in person.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 29, 2019
We don’t know if we’d classify the relationship between Ferguson and the UFC to be strained. UFC president Dana White has always been complimentary of Ferguson and the organization as a whole handled Tony’s recent mental breakdown with a lot of compassion, care, and confidentiality.
But there was also that incident where they stripped him of his interim lightweight belt after he injured his knee tripping over a cable during official UFC media duties. He’s been honey-dicked regularly over the years for his shot at the legit title. And now the promotion is being tightfisted with one of the biggest fights of the year.
From their point of view, Khabib is the A-side here and him versus anyone is already one of the biggest fights of the year. But Ferguson is so clearly and undeniably the worthiest #1 contender that a failure to put this fight together would almost constitute promotional malpractice. Let’s hope things go well in Vegas and we can add another ironclad mega fight to the first quarter of 2020.