I understand that as a fight promoter, definitive language is something that’s frowned upon, which is why Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White, is always telling the mixed martial arts (MMA) media that “we’ll see how this thing plays out” when talking about upcoming fights.
Take Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson, for example.
“The Eagle” unified the lightweight titles with a commanding performance over Dustin Poirier in the UFC 242 pay-per-view (PPV) main event on Sat. (Sept. 7, 2019) inside The Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, submitting “The Diamond” with a third-round rear-naked choke.
Watch the video highlights here.
“Tony Ferguson is next in line if he accepts the fight,” White told reporters at the UFC 242 post-fight press conference (watch it here). “We’ll see how this thing plays out, when Khabib will fight again, and if Tony wants the fight.”
That’s one “we’ll see,” a pair of “ifs,” and two instances of White putting the onus on Ferguson. I can’t imagine “El Cucuy” — who at one point held the interim strap and is currently ranked No. 2 in the division behind the recently-vanquished Poirier — would turn it down.
That said, history is certainly not in favor of Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson. The 155-pound showdown has been booked four times since 2015 and fallen apart each time as a result of injuries and mismanaged weight cuts, with both fighters equally sharing the blame.
We also have to acknowledge the lurking presence of Conor McGregor, who may not be deserving of a Nurmagomedov rematch, but does set PPV records every time he sets foot inside the cage. For how much longer remains to be seen and UFC is not going to miss a chance to cash in while it still can.
That’s one of many reasons why I’m not convinced Ferguson is going to be next in line for Nurmagomedov. Lord knows he’s earned it, thanks to a 25-3 record and 12 straight wins inside the cage — nine of them finishes — but this is prize fighting, which is why we’re getting Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 in New York.
It makes money.
In a perfect world, McGregor and Poirier would have a rematch from their UFC 178 collision back in 2014, contested at featherweight, which “Notorious” won by way of technical knockout. Or perhaps “The Diamond” can throw down against the victorious Paul Felder, who avenged his loss to Edson Barboza in the UFC 242 PPV co-main event (recap).
Time will tell.
For complete UFC 242 results and coverage click here.