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Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson official for UFC 209

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A sizzling lightweight matchup is making its way to Las Vegas.

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson have both signed bout agreements to meet at UFC 209 on March 4 at T-Mobile Arena. MMA Fighting confirmed an initial Wednesday report by the Los Angeles Times.

With UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor on the sidelines awaiting the birth of his first child, the UFC has made this bout a five-round interim title fight.

Nurmagomedov (24-0) has buzzsawed his way through the competition at 155 pounds, winning eight straight fights since joining the UFC in 2012. The only thing which has impeded the American Kickboxing Academy fighter’s progress has been injury, as knee woes kept him sidelined for the better part of two years. In his most recent bout, Nurmagomedov submitted Michael Johnson in the third round of their UFC 205 matchup.

Ferguson (22-3), meanwhile, doesn’t have Nurmagomedov’s spotless record, but he’s been on an impressive run of his own. The TUF 13 winner has won nine consecutive bouts, most recently a unanimous decision over former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos in November.

The bout was long rumored, but took weeks of drama to finalize, as Ferguson held out for more money. Nurmagomedov at one point offered Ferguson $200,000 of his own money to make the bout.

But that’s in the past, and business will be settled on March 4. The winner is expected to meet McGregor sometime in the fall.

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