Khabib Nurmagomedov has yet to step back inside the world-famous Octagon following his big win over Michael Johnson at UFC 205 in November 2016. We have now found that originally, he was scheduled to return to the cage at UFC 217. However, things did not turn out the way that they were supposed to and plans were scrapped.
UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby revealed in a recent interview that Khabib was offered a fight against fellow top contender Tony Ferguson at the event, but talks were unsuccessful.
“Just to clear things up, a fight was offered to Nurmagomedov on Nov. 4th, and at that point, we were trying to put cards together towards the end of the year,” Shelby said on Watch List (via Bloody Elbow). “I was informed that he could not make that date and he probably wouldn’t be able to fight until at least December. And so, that left Tony without a dance partner and it’s not just about one guy, it’s about two guys.”
This was when UFC decided to instead book Ferguson to headline UFC 216 against Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight title.
“So we backed Tony up, and Kevin Lee was there, and I mean look at his resume as of late,” Shelby explained. “He’s a phenomenal fighter, he’s doing fantastic. Right now, I think he’s the hottest thing in the division.”
If you recall, the two were supposed to fight for the interim title at UFC 209. However, the supposed co-main event bout was scrapped when Khabib pulled out due to health issues stemming from his weight cut.
UFC 217 is set to take place on Saturday, November 4th in New York at Madison Square Garden. Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre for the UFC middleweight title is expected to serve as the main event. Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw for the UFC bantamweight title is expected to serve as the co-main event.