Top-ranked lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov may have wanted to reschedule his interim title bout with Tony Ferguson for his long-awaited return, but apparently, the UFC has other plans.
No. 3-ranked Edson Barboza just revealed during a Q&A session at this weekend’s UFC Sao Paulo (via MMA Fighting) that he is taking on Nurmagomedov at December 30’s UFC 219 pay-per-view (PPV) event from Las Vegas:
“I just got the news a few minutes ago that my next fight will be on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas against Khabib Nurmagomedov. I’m really happy with this opportunity. It’s going to be a war.”
The bout was later officially confirmed by the UFC.
Nurmagomedov has been out of action since stopping longtime contender Michael Johnson at last November’s UFC 205. He was scheduled to take on Ferguson for the interim lightweight belt at March’s UFC 209, but some serious issues with his weight cut left him out of action for the entirety of 2017 thus far.
Out of action dealing with injuries since his “Knockout of the Year” candidate versus Beneil Dariush last March, Barboza has won three straight bouts since losing to Ferguson in an all-out battle in late 2015, making his potential match-up with Nurmagomedov a clear title eliminator.
That is, in a UFC division where Conor McGregor isn’t the champ.