It’s finally happening.
For over a year now, the UFC has been attempting to make a fight between the two top lightweight contenders, Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, to no avail. The pair were first scheduled to fight at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale in December 2015, but Nurmagomedov pulled out due to injury. The bout was then rescheduled for April 2016 but this time Ferguson withdrew from the contest. With Nurmagomedov unwilling to wait for Ferguson to recover, he accepted a short-notice fight against Darrell Horcher and then sat out an extended period in observance of the holy month of Ramadan. In the mean time, Ferguson took another fight and then both men took different fights towards the back end of 2016, looking to establish themselves as the No. 1 contender for a lightweight title shot.
Instead, Conor McGregor won the lightweight title at UFC 205 and then absconded with the belt for an extended leave to welcome in the birth of his first child. With this development, both Nurmagomedov and Ferguson began publicly calling for a fight against each other with an interim belt on the line. But despite both fighters wanting the fight, negotiations were again held up by contractual demands from Ferguson, requesting equal pay to Nurmagomedov. It appeared that the fight the fans wanted to see would once again be shelved. But then last week, everything suddenly got settled and the UFC announced Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson for the interim lightweight championship as the co-main event of UFC 209.
Yesterday, at a media event in Las Vegas for the main and co-main event stars, Ferguson spoke with ESPN about his contract negotiations and how everything got settled with UFC President Dana White wanting him to fight out his contract instead of asking for more money.
“It’s business I understand that. But I out-performed my contract and we had a talk, management came to an agreement and now we’re fighting. I don’t like to talk too much business. That’s for the management and that kind of person. I like to do my business inside the octagon. I feel like you guys are pretty familiar with that.”
And while it seems Ferguson is now satisfied with his financial situation going into this interim title fight, there is one thing that still bothers him: that this isn’t for the real title. Ferguson went off on the lightweight champion for “running” from the lightweight division and stated his argument for why his fight at UFC 209 is the real lightweight championship bout.
“I have nine fights in a row win streak. Khabib has eight fights in a row. This is the first time you guys are ever gonna see this inside the octagon. This is for an interim title. It should be for the real shit. Am I a little pissed about it? Yeah. Is Conor gonna defend his belt, that little bitch? Probably not. He’s gonna run. Go ahead. Go run. Go try to box. You’ll get your ass kicked too. And when you’re ready to come back, they’re gonna strip your belt and at 155, I’m gonna be holding it and you’re gonna be like, ‘Oh I want my belt back’ and this and that. I don’t give a shit. The fight, the real fight, is between Conor? No. Conor, sorry buddy. The fight’s between Khabib and Ferguson.”
McGregor has fought only one time in the UFC lightweight division, his title winning effort over Eddie Alvarez. Nurmagomedov is 8-0 in the UFC and Ferguson is 12-1. There’s no timetable for McGregor’s return, but with him potentially fighting welterweight champion Tyron Woodley or having a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr., when he does come back Ferguson might not be too far off.
All business Ferguson pic.twitter.com/YNIeHeNg38— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 19, 2017
Low blow. Chael Sonnen brought up Tito Ortiz’s ex in “nasty” comments ahead of Bellator 170.
Please no. Jason Parillo thinks B.J. Penn will want to fight again.
Treatment. Tyron Woodley believes he’s the “worst-treated champion” in UFC history.
Tragic. Brett Rogers arrested and charged with three counts of sexual misconduct.
Full Bellator presser.
Sage’s war on fruit continues.
Woodley on TMZ.
Shlemenko on Fedor.
Pretty sure this isn’t accurate but still, ice cold.
Before you ask for $25M, be worth more than $25M. You have the "2" and the "5" right but you meant to say $2.5M not $25M. pic.twitter.com/07vaWF0hen— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) January 19, 2017
First dumb thing I've heard Chael say... it's like stating the sky is blue and expecting that to be a revelation https://t.co/ZecRIAlNaH— Jenna Jameson (@jennajameson) January 19, 2017
To everyone thinking @ChaelSonnen 's remark at the press conference for his fight with Tito bothered me, it didn't... he stated the obvious— Jenna Jameson (@jennajameson) January 19, 2017
Only fight I will take is @bisping for the belt! Waiting will only make me hungrier. No excuses, see you soon boi #ynuevo— Yoel Romero (@YoelRomeroMMA) January 20, 2017
Is this where you injured your knee? smh sign the papers @bisping set the date already #ynuevo https://t.co/TZBdChk2t0— Yoel Romero (@YoelRomeroMMA) January 19, 2017
Getting that push.
Chael really is very good at this.
Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen square off after the #bellator170 press conference. Who ya got? pic.twitter.com/aHcaWHawsl— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) January 19, 2017
Family, friends and fans, first of all I want to say thank you so much for all the love and support. It's something I can see and have felt throughout out my career and I'm very thankful for it all. I have been doing what I love for almost 9 years now and I can promise you I gave it everything I had. Tonight I'm so excited to announce my retirement from fighting. I'm ready for what's next. I'm ready to be with my wife and kids, to be the best wife and most of all to be the best step mom to our girls. Kennedy and Ellie I love you both so much. I want to thank my coach John Crouch for always supporting me in and out of the cage. Thank you coach Eddie, Wil and Jarret! Thank you Mike Dolce for always being on my team. I owe everything to my brothers and sisters at the MMA LAB thank you. #mmalabelite #dolcediet #onepercentbetter #teamJJL
James Vick (9-1) vs. Abel Trujillo (15-6); UFC Fight Night: Houston, Feb. 4.
Timothy Johnson (10-3) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (19-6-1); UFC Fight Night: London, March 18.
Lina Lansberg (6-2) vs. Veronica Macedo (5-1-1); UFC Fight Night: London, March 18.
Chris Weidman (13-2) vs. Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2); UFC 210, April 8.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2007: WEC 25, the first event under Zuffa ownership, was held featuring Urijah Faber submitting Joe Pearson to retain his featherweight championship and Rob McCullough submitted Kit Cope to win the vacant lightweight title. This event was also the WEC debut of Carlos Condit who submitted Kyle Jensen.
2012: The UFC held their first event on FX, UFC Fight Night: Guillard vs. Miller. This event featured the debut of Jon Anik on commentary as well as the UFC debut of Khabib Nurmagomedov who submitted Kamal Shalorus with a rear-naked choke.
Khabib vs. Tony is the second-best possible fight that can be made in all of MMA and I can’t wait for it.
Have a good weekend everyone. Enjoy Bellator and I’ll see y’all Monday.
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.