Khabib Nurmagomedov (pictured) vs. Tony Ferguson: Take Three. After each fighter took turns pulling out of two previously scheduled fights with various injuries, the lightweights will finally meet at UFC 209 for the interim lightweight title.
The scrap was announced on this week’s edition of “UFC Tonight.”
Both fighters were hoping their next outing would be against current champ Conor McGregor, but the UFC’s cash cow is expected to sit out at least the first-half of 2017 until the birth of his first child. Thus, the UFC felt the need to manufacture yet another interim belt.
Nurmagomedov has been calling out Ferguson for quite some time, but Ferguson requested to be paid as much as the Russian for the fight. UFC president Dana White scoffed at Ferguson’s financial demands.
Earlier this month, Nurmagomedov offered to pay Ferguson $200,000 out of his own pocket if he accepted the tango. Ferguson declined to take his money, because he felt the UFC should pay him for outperforming his contract.
It is unknown if the UFC increased Ferguson’s salary for accepting the shootout.
Ferguson is one of MMA’s hottest fighters having rattled off nine consecutive victories, a torrid run he started in 2013. “El Cucuy” most recently posted a unanimous decision win over former champ Rafael dos Anjos in November.
Nurmagomedov owns a perfect 24-0 professional record. He is fresh off November’s submission victory over Michael Johnson.
From a financial standpoint, this is a critical bout for the two. The winner will most likely advance to a lucrative title unification bout with McGregor in their next fight.
The March 4 event takes place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here is UFC 209’s current lineup:
Ed Herman vs. Igor Pokrajac
Paul Craig vs. Tyson Pedro
David Teymur vs. Lando Vannata
Todd Duffee vs. Mark Godbeer
Mirsad Bektic vs. Darren Elkins
Mark Hunt vs. Alistair Overeem
Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Stephen Thompson vs. Tyron Woodely (UFC welterweight champion)