With Ronda Rousey set to make her long-awaited return to the octagon on New Year’s Eve weekend, Jose Aldo (pictured), Max Holloway, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson are doing their best to not become back page news at such a critical stage in the UFC’s 2017 planning.
There is plenty of drama surrounding the four fighters, so let us help clear the air on what’s what. Or, at least, what the fighters are saying what’s what.
Let’s start with Aldo and Holloway, since Holloway is just 12 days removed from capturing the interim featherweight title by smoking Anthony Pettis at UFC 206.
According to Aldo, he, Holloway and Pettis were all previously made aware that whoever walked away with the interim belt at UFC 206 would meet him in a featherweight title unification bout at UFC 208.
Holloway is calling BS, because he claims he had no idea about facing Aldo in eight weeks until UFC officials told him in the cage seconds after he TKO’d Pettis. Holloway told FoxSports.com that at the time his adrenaline pumping so he was more than happy to fight Aldo – whenever, where ever.
Yeah, about that. After the natural high died down, Holloway noticed that his left ankle had turned into a nasty cankle. After visiting a doctor, he was told to avoid contact for four to six weeks, which meant there was no way he could fight Aldo on February 11.
It was at that point, Holloway claims, that Aldo started calling him out for pulling out of the fight only because he knew Holloway couldn’t make the appointment.
Now, onto the lightweights that also seem to involve Aldo, the most decorated 145-pounder in MMA history.
Nurmagomedov has been requesting a tango with lightweight champion Conor McGregor ever since the UFC’s cash cow captured the title in November. However, after learning McGregor was taking several months off until after the birth of his first child, the Russian immediately turned his attention towards Ferguson, the only other 155-pounder who can make a legitimate claim that he’s next in line for a crack at the lightweight throne.
Nurmagomedov has insinuated that the UFC is trying to arrange a scrap with Ferguson at UFC 209, but Ferguson is not willing to sign the bout agreement. Ferguson states that he’s more than happy to fight the Russian, but would like to receive proper compensation and the UFC has yet to present him an acceptable offer.
So now what? Oh yeah, that Aldo guy. According to Aldo, the UFC offered him an interim LIGHTWEIGHT title tilt, most likely against Nurmagomedov or Ferguson, but he didn’t specify the opponent with MMAFighting.com, at UFC 209. Although, Aldo says one of the two opponents already turned the shootout down, “I won’t say who it is because it’s a surprise. A guy we never thought would turn it down turned it down, because his father didn’t think it was good.”
Nurmagomedov has been coached by his father for most of his life.
Nurmagomedov took exception to Aldo insinuating that he was the one who declined the fight. At the same time, he didn’t necessarily deny turning down Aldo because he’s focused on meeting Ferguson because he wants “a real battle, and only Tony can give it to me,” Nurmagomedov responded on his verified Instagram account.
And that leads us to today, where none of the four fighters have been issued their next assignments. But it’s been fun following the drama unfold from afar. Anyone else interested in joining the fray?