Since his win over Michael Johnson at UFC 205 in November 2016, Khabib Nurmagomedov has yet to step back inside the Octagon. Apparently, he was supposed to return to action back in New York at UFC 217 on November 4th, only for things to fall out, once again.
According to UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby, Khabib was offered a fight against fellow top contender Tony Ferguson, but talks were unsuccessful.
“Just to clear things up, a fight was offered to Nurmagomedov on Nov. 4th, and at that point we were trying to put cards together towards the end of the year,” Shelby said on Watch List. “I was informed that he could not make that date and he probably wouldn’t be able to fight until at least December. And so, that left Tony without a dance partner and it’s not just about one guy, it’s about two guys.”
It was then when the UFC decided to instead book Ferguson to headline UFC 216 against Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight title.
“So we backed Tony up and Kevin Lee was there and I mean look at his resume as of late,” Shelby explained. “He’s a phenomenal fighter, he’s doing fantastic. Right now, I think he’s the hottest thing in the division.”
Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have some unfinished business with each other. The two were supposed to fight for the interim title at UFC 209, but the supposed co-main event match-up was scrapped when Khabib pulled out last minute due to health issues stemming from his weight cut.
UFC 216 is scheduled for October 7th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.