UFC matchmakers have put together a fight between top lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson three times, but the two have still never fought. They were first slated to meet at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale in December 15, but Nurmagomedov pulled out of the bout due to injury. Bout agreements were signed for them to fight at UFC on FOX 19 in April 2016, but Ferguson was forced out of the event with a health issue.
The third time the fight promotion matched the two against each other was supposed to be for the interim UFC lightweight title in the UFC 209 co-main event on March 4. Both arrived in Las Vegas without injury and participated in the pre-fight press conference and the open workouts for the media during fight week. The fight fell through hours before weigh-ins when Nurmagomedov was hospitalized while attempting to cut weight.
“I would love to have the fight. Putting up with the whole entire camp again and going through all the battles between… It just puts a salty taste in my mouth. It’s like going out there and swimming in the ocean; you know it’s good for you, but it puts that taste in your mouth,” he said.
“The Khabib fight, I would be cool with that because it’s a fight that I want. I want this fight. The fans want this fight,” he added. “I wouldn’t mind training for it again. There would have to be some assurances for it.”
Eventually, “El Cucuy” and “The Eagle” will meet in the cage. Whether or not the UFC is prepared to schedule it for a fourth time anytime soon remains to be seen.