2016 has been one of the most newsworthy years in the history of MMA. From the sale of the UFC, the rise of Conor McGregor, the impact of USADA testing and the returns of Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey, the MMA media space has been inundated with huge stories. And while it doesn’t occupy the same magnitude of importance as those other stories, 2016 has also played host to never ending saga of lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been not-so-quietly circling each other since the end of last year and after Ferguson’s win over Rafael dos Anjos and Nurmagomedov’s demolition over Michael Johnson at UFC 205 all signs seemed to indicate that the pair would finally meet early next year, likely for an interim lightweight championship while current champion Conor McGregor is taking a brief personal break.
Then last week, featherweight champion Jose Aldo informed Ariel Helwani that he had been offered an interim lightweight title fight against Nurmagomedov but that Khabib refused the fight. Khabib responded saying that he was looking to fight Ferguson instead and Ferguson let it be known that he was holding out for a contract he felt was more equitable. Suddenly the fight most fans wanted to see was now in serious jeopardy and things only got this week when, during a media scrum before UFC 207, Dana White announced that a fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov was on ice because Ferguson wanted to be paid the same as Nurmagomedov and “that ain’t happening.”
Well, it looks like Nurmagomedov is tired of all the politicking because yesterday he took to his Instagram to call out the UFC for not making the fight the “whole world is waiting for.”
“This message to @UFC :
“It is clear to everyone that you hiding Conor from me. But stop lying to your fans like I don't want fight with Aldo, I'm ready to fight with anyone in my division. Give me relevant fight, so you won't be able to hide the belt from me after. But not the fight, where people say after my victory: he is too small, Khabib too big for him etc.
“I'm asking you for match that whole world is waiting for, give me Tony. You have never matched up two guys with 9 and 8 win streak in UFC, NEVER IN UFC HISTORY. #telltruthtopeople”
Nurmagomedov has consistently maintained that his priority is to get the lightweight title. After his victory at UFC 205, he immediately began calling out “chicken” Conor McGregor but McGregor planned to take some time off and was cool to the idea of fighting someone with Nurmagomedov’s history of withdrawing from fights. When it became apparent that he wouldn’t be getting a fight with McGregor any time soon, Nurmagomedov pivoted to seeking an interim title fight against Ferguson who is currently on a nine fight winning streak, the longest in UFC lightweight history. A win over Ferguson would give Nurmagomedov one of the most ironclad resumes deserving of a title shot in the history of the UFC and basically guarantee him the next crack at McGregor.
And so as 2016 comes to a close, the top two lightweights on the planet not named Conor McGregor continue to tantalize us with the prospect of fighting one another without ever actually doing so. Maybe 2017 will be more hospitable to the match up.
This message to @UFC : It is clear to everyone that you hiding Conor from me. But stop lying to your fans like I don't want fight with Aldo, I'm ready to fight with anyone in my division. Give me relevant fight, so you won't be able to hide the belt from me after. But not the fight, where people say after my victory: he is too small, Khabib too big for him etc. I'm asking you for match that whole world is waiting for, give me Tony. You have never matched up two guys with 9 and 8 win streak in UFC, NEVER IN UFC HISTORY. #telltruthtopeople ❗ Хочу обратиться к @UFC : Всему миру понятно что вы прячете от меня Конора, но не надо рассказывать свои сказки фанатам, перестаньте врать типо я не хочу боя с Альдо, я готов драться с любым бойцом в моем весе. Дайте мне конкурентный бой, после которого вы не сможете прятать от меня пояс. А не тот бой, чтоб люди говорили после моей победы: Он же маленький, Хабиб слишком большой для него и т д. Сейчас я у вас прошу бой, которого ждёт весь бойцовский мир, дайте мне Тони. Вы в своей истории не проводили бой между двумя бойцами у одного из которых 9 побед подряд в рамках UFC а у другого 8 побед. #говорителюдямправду #юфсишныеигрыопятьвтеме
185. Johny Hendricks missed weight again ahead of UFC 207.
Fight. Cody Garbrandt and Jeremy Stephens explain their backstage altercation with Dominick Cruz.
Retirement. Dana White says he isn’t sure if Ronda Rousey will compete again if she loses.
Snowball. Dana White says there is “no way in hell” Cain Velasquez should be fighting this weekend.
Basically clean. Chael Sonnen passed two out-of-competition drug tests ahead of Bellator 170.
Our preview show with Ariel and Shaun.
For real though, Garbrandt-Stephens would be fun for a minute.
The final embedded.
Miesha on The Herd.
Never would have thought Louis Smolka would make TMZ but his Johny Hendricks comment was gas.
Tate interview Nunes is kinda fun.
Chael P on 207.
Sam Alvey has a pod.
15 years together and last time I get to be onstage with my dear friend Joe Silva. You will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/LEKBLjyGAb— Sean Shelby (@seanshelby) December 29, 2016
That looks like the most relieved smile of all time to me.
Took them a while to take this one down.
Gotta be strange.
Tried and true.
Oldest and still most successful way of selling a fight = A and B hate each other and wanna get after it. Uhm....y'no they're gonna fight??— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) December 30, 2016
Also for what it's worth it 100% works on me. Its a fascination that makes us human after all. IMHO cruz wins and it makes cody better.— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) December 30, 2016
Cody Garbrandt has perfect eyebrows.— Dan Hardy (@danhardymma) December 29, 2016
JMMA Cro Cop is a force.
Win some and lose some. I tried but came up short.— King Mo (@KingMoFH) December 29, 2016
Yeah, you can. That’s how employment works.
We cannot be held accountable for Joe Warren's comments.#RIZIN— RIZIN FF (@RIZINFF) December 29, 2016
Rizin was amazing you should definitely watch tonight’s.
Only real opponent for Baruto can be Nate Diaz. https://t.co/TSmF8ZPKJu— Champions MMA (@ChampionsFight) December 29, 2016
Rumble should sit Johny down for a talk.
Annnnd now I’m a Tim Johnson fan.
Whatever else is going on, Ronda looked jacked at the weigh in.
Good on them.
Sergio Pettis (14-2) vs. John Moraga (16-5); UFC Fight Night: Phoenix, January 15.
Devin Powell (8-1) vs. Drakkar Klose (6-0-1); UFC Fight Night: Phoenix, January 15.
Josh Burkman (28-14, 1 NC) vs. Michel Prazeres (21-2); UFC Fight Night: Fortalez, March 11.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2006: Chuck Liddell stopped Tito Ortiz for the second time to successfully defend his UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 66. At the time this was the UFC’s most successful event ever with the pay-per-view eclipsing 1 million buys.
2011: Alistair Overeem retired Brock Lesnar (until he came back) with vicious knees to the body in the main event of UFC 141.
It’s here. Tonight we get the final UFC shows of Joe Silva, Mike Goldberg, and possibly Ronda Rousey. Should be wild. Enjoy everyone. And of course enjoy the majesty of Rizin and WSOF tomorrow.
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