The lightweight title matchup that fans have been waiting to see is now scheduled for the fifth time, and many are hoping the fifth time is the charm for this fight. Brett Okamoto of ESPN was first to report that top lightweight contender Tony Ferguson has signed his contract to face current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in a matchup scheduled for April.
Breaking: WE GOT A FIGHT. Per Tony Ferguson’s (@TonyFergusonXT) management Ballengee Group, Tony has signed his contract to face Khabib Nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) on April 18 in Brooklyn. More coming to @espn shortly. pic.twitter.com/cgwCucPl3v
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 30, 2019
As mentioned, this will be the fifth time the UFC has attempted to book Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov, the most recent coming at UFC 223 in 2018, but that fight fell through when Ferguson had to withdraw due to a knee injury suffered while doing a media tour for the fight. The withdrawal of Ferguson would set off a firestorm between Nurmagomedov and former lightweight champion, Conor McGregor.
Both fighters have winning streaks of over 10 fights, which makes the matchup between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov historical, but one that has not yet come to fruition. As noted by the ESPN report, in the previous four booking attempts, Ferguson pulled out in 2016 and 2018, while Nurmagomedov pulled out in 2015 and 2017, leaving many to doubt if this fight would ever happen.
Ferguson was the former UFC interim lightweight champion but once he sustained the injury before UFC 223, he was stripped of his interim title and Nurmagomedov would go on to win the undisputed championship at 223 against Al Iaquinta. After claiming the title over Iaquinta, Nurmagomedov has gone on to defeat McGregor and Dustin Poirier in two title defenses. “The Eagle” is 12-0 in his UFC career, 27-0 in his professional career, and has seen his popularity rise during his rivalry with McGregor.
As for “El Cucuy” Tony Ferguson, he has won 12 consecutive fights, with his most recent wins coming over top-contenders Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis in bloodbath wars that he has become known for. As he worked back from his injury, Ferguson competed against Pettis on the same card as Nurmagomedov vs McGregor, in almost an ironic sign of how many times the matchup has failed to come through for the UFC.
While the UFC has not yet announced the matchup, the ESPN report states that the event is set to take place on April 18, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York, the same place where these two fighters had previously been scheduled to compete at UFC 223.
It may take until the moment that both fighters are actually in the cage and facing off for many to believe it’s actually happening, but the UFC is showing no signs of fear and have booked this matchup for the fifth time.