The bout was first teased by Barboza on Friday at a fan Q&A in Sao Paulo prior to the UFC’s announcement.
“I just got the news a few minutes ago that my next fight will be on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas against Khabib Nurmagomedov,” Barboza said. “I’m really happy with this opportunity. It’s going to be a war."
UFC 219 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Nurmagomedov vs. Barboza booking seemingly brings some clarity to the UFC lightweight division. Earlier this month, Barboza announced that he had accepted a fight against Nurmagomedov, but that Nurmagomedov was still holding out hope to get a shot against UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, which would in turn free up UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor to fight Nate Diaz in a trilogy match. Nurmagomedov echoed the same sentiment, but acknowledged that he would be willing to fight Barboza if the plan turned out to be McGregor vs. Ferguson.
Nurmagomedov (24-0) has won all eight of his fights under the UFC umbrella, a run highlighted by dominant showings over Michael Johnson and Rafael dos Anjos. Nurmagomedov was supposed to challenge Ferguson for the interim lightweight title in March at UFC 209, but ultimately was pulled from the contest after being hospitalized due to complications suffered while cutting weight.
Barboza (19-4), meanwhile, has won three consecutive bouts, earning unanimous decisions over Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez before scoring a vicious knockout over Beneil Dariush at UFC Fight Night Fortaleza.
“Everybody knows his game,” Barboza said Friday of Nurmagomedov. “It’s no secret to anyone. But I’m a MMA fighter and I’m not afraid of going to the ground with him. If he gives me an opening on the ground, I have a chance to end the fight there. I’m sure that if I go there and do my best, I’ll come out victorious.
“I’m a brown belt under Ricardo Almeida and I’m ready, no doubt. People doubt my jiu-jitsu a little bit because most of the fighters wasn’t able to take me down, so they haven’t seen my jiu-jitsu. But I’m ready. But you’ll be surprised.”
Who wins it?
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