Cub Swanson and Hacran Dias were recently bumped up to the UFC on FOX 19 main card, when Tony Ferguson had to withdraw from his main event bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov. That lasted all of a day or so.
UFC officials on Thursday announced that Nurmagomedov had inked a fight with a new opponent and would remain on the main card. He won’t be in the main event, as he’s now facing UFC newbie Darrell Horcher, but he will be fighting on FOX, not the prelims. The fight will also take place at a 160-pound catchweight due to its short notice.
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When Ferguson withdrew from the fight, UFC officials quickly instituted the co-main event bout between light heavyweights Rashad Evans and Glover Teixeira as the new headliner and, a short time later, slotted Swanson vs. Dias onto the main card. With Nurmagomedov landing a new fight, however, the promotion wants to keep one of its top lightweight contenders on the big stage.
Nurmagomedov (22-0) has won all six of his previous UFC fights, including a victory over current lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos before the Brazilian won the belt. That was two years ago. He has since been sidelined dealing with injuries.
Ready to return, Nurmagomedov didn’t want to wait for Ferguson, who has fluid in his lung, to recuperate. He wants to get back in the Octagon and get a fight under his belt.
While many options were discussed, including a nearly done deal with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, the UFC eventually settled on one of the northeastern United States’ top prospects. Enter Darrell Horcher.
Horcher (12-1) is a Bellator veteran, who currently holds the Cage Fury Fighting Championship lightweight title. CFFC has become a top feeder promotion to the UFC and other global promotions.
Facing Nurmagomedov is a huge step up in competition for Horcher, but taking the fight on a week’s notice, win or lose, he’s likely to remain on the roster past this fight.