Bad news Khabib Nurmagomedov fans, good news Edson Barboza fans. The Dagestani top contender is out again from a planned return from injury. This time around, it's not his knees that are bothering him, but a busted rib. A setback that has Nurmagomedov questioning if he'll ever return to fighting.
Nurmagomedov was set to take on former TUF winner Tony Ferguson at the Ultimate Fighter Finale on December 11th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The return against 8th ranked Ferguson was likely to be the stepping stone back into title contention against the winner of Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone, at least as long as Nurmagomedov got past "El Cucuy." Instead, Khabib's injury has made way for Edson Barboza. The UFC made the change official via press release on Friday, October 30th.
The Brazilian will be coming in fresh off a July win over rising prospect Paul Felder. This will be his third fight in 2015, as he started the year with a loss to Michael Johnson back in February. Ferguson is on a much longer hot streak, with six consecutive UFC victories, including wins over Josh Thomson and Gleison Tibau this year.
Considering the pace that Ferguson pushes and the variety of strikes he throws, this has the feeling of being a tough out for Barbosa. The Brazilian has slowly gotten better at handling pressure fighters over the years, but high output, pocket boxing along with the occasional shot in on his hips has always been the key to getting by him and seems like a gameplan that Ferguson can follow. Stay tuned for more bookings updates as the UFC schedule kicks into high gear for the fourth quarter.