Khabib Nurmagomedov agrees to defend lightweight title vs. Tony Ferguson in April

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
(L-R) Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson have signed to fight each other four times, but the fight has never come to fruition. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

A fight that will be five years in the making is finally close to reality after lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson agreed to meet in April for the belt in the main event of a UFC card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto first reported the news, which UFC president Dana White confirmed Monday to Yahoo Sports.

Nurmagomedov signed his contract already, according to an Instagram post by his manager, Ali Abdelaziz. Ferguson has not signed, but White told Yahoo Sports, “We don’t expect any issues.”

The men had signed to fight each other four times previously, with Nurmagomedov pulling out of fights in 2015 and 2017 because of injuries, while Ferguson pulled out in 2016 and 2018 for the same reason. 

Ferguson tripped over a wire while on a television set in 2018, which injured his knee and led to him being stripped of the interim lightweight title he’d won by defeating Kevin Lee. Nurmagomedov ultimately met Al Iaquinta and won the vacant title by unanimous decision.

The Nurmagomedov-Ferguson bout will pit two of the most successful fighters in the sport. Nurmagomedov is 28-0, while Ferguson is 25-3 but has won 12 in a row and 18 of his last 19.

Since defeating Iaquinta for the title, Nurmagomedov has defended it successfully by submitting Conor McGregor and Dustin PoirierFerguson hasn’t fought since stopping Donald Cerrone on June 8. He has been in the Fight of the Night in his last two fights as well as in five of his last six.

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