Edson Barboza Declares Tony Ferguson, Not Conor McGregor, is the True Champion

Edson Barboza on Friday revealed during a UFC Sao Paulo question and answer session with fans that he would be fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 219 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas. UFC officials confirmed the bout.

Nurmagomedov, however, doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to making it to the Octagon when he’s booked for a bout. He was supposed to have fought Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 in March, but fell ill during his weight cut and was unable to fight. He hasn’t fought in nearly a year.

Barboza said at a media scrum in Sao Paulo that he isn’t too worried about Nurmagomedov pulling out of the fight. 

“Injuries happen all the time. I think I never fight 100-percent with my body in my life. Always, always, always, I have some injuries, not too bad. This happen,” Barboza said, before adding, “I’m not scared of this.” 

Ferguson went on to fight Kevin Lee at UFC 216 to capture the interim lightweight championship, while Conor McGregor was coming down from his megafight with Floyd Mayweather in a boxing ring. 

Considering Ferguson’s activity, Barboza believes that he, not McGregor, is the true champion of the weight class, and Ferguson is who Barboza wants to fight if he gets past Nurmagomedov.

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UFC 219 doesn’t yet have a headlining bout named, but UFC president Dana White has targeted McGregor vs. Ferguson for the fight card. Considering Nurmagomedov and Barboza are ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, behind McGregor and Ferguson, it wouldn’t be surprising if that bout comes together. Having all four fighters on the same card would give the UFC a little added insurance in case someone has to pull out of the main event.

(Courtesy of UFC)

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