It wasn’t that long ago that Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov were supposed to fight at UFC 249. This was back in May. It would be the fifth failed attempt to host the lightweight grudge match.
After Khabib was unable to compete due to COVID-19 travel restrictions he was replaced by lightweight brawler Justin Gaethje. To the surprise of many, Gaethje handily defeated Ferguson and snapped his 12-fight UFC win streak. Gaethje then went on to fight Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 and lost via submission (highlights HERE).
Following that fight, Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from the sport in light of his father’s passing and put the Ferguson beef on permanent ice. Ferguson’s reaction to the news, which can be seen below, was priceless:
While some believe Khabib will return in the near future in an attempt to push his undefeated record to 30-0 most feel the Dagestani fighter will stay retired. Ferguson is part of the group that believes Khabib will one day return to the Octagon.
“He was emotional,” said Ferguson of Khabib in a recent interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. “I already called it out. I said the same thing that Dana [White] said. I said it before anybody. He got emotional. He’ll be back. He’s going to go back and talk to his mom and says what’s up. The kid’s too young to be able to retire right now. Same thing with Conor [McGregor]. You can make all the money in the f—king world, but if you’re a competitor and you’re an athlete its hard to walk away on that kind of thing.”
Until UFC president Dana White has his heart-to-heart talk with Khabib next month we’re to assume “Eagle” isn’t flying to “Fight Island” anytime soon. It has subsequently left a void in the UFC’s lightweight division. One that Ferguson could fill if he’s able to snap Charles Oliveira’s seven-fight win streak later tonight (Sat., Dec. 12, 2020) at UFC 256 live on ESPN+ PPV from Las Vegas.
A win for Ferguson could land him in a lightweight title fight his next time out, especially if Khabib stays retired for the time being. And if Nurmagomedov ever wants to return to the Octagon “El Cucuy” will be waiting with open arms.
“As far as him retiring, and as far as we ever meeting and everything like that, I’m not going to say it’s a Christian, Muslim war. I’m not going to say anything like that. But what I will say is he’ll have his hands full if it does come to me.”
What do you think, fight fans? Will Khabib return to UFC? If so, will we ever see him fight Tony Ferguson?
Let’s hear it!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 256 fight card right HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 256: “Figueiredo vs. Moreno” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For more upcoming UFC events in both Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi click here.