UFC President Dana White Wants Drama in the Lightweight Division and There are Three Fights He Can Make to Create it…
Now we finally know when UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagamedov and his nemesis Conor McGregor are due to return, it’s realistic to start looking ahead to their next fights. Both men will be out until April at the earliest. They’ve been hit with retroactive bans of 9 months and 6 months, respectively, although Khabib’s will also be shortened to 6 if he takes part in an anti-bullying programme.
Khabib has threatened to take the entire year off and match the one year bans that his teammates Abubakar Nurmagamedov and Zubaira Tukhugov were slammed with the Nevada Athletic Commission. However, the threat of being stripped is real if he goes down that route, plus he could be missing out on a lot of money.
UFC President Dana White has confirmed that the gears are beginning to shift and that there could be what would basically be a four-person mini-tournament involving Khabib, McGregor, Donald Cerrone, and Tony Ferguson.
You have to give Cerrone credit, he’s really done his part in driving up the momentum for a fight against McGregor. Originally the UFC was looking to get ‘The Notorious’ to rematch against Dustin Poirier, but ‘Cowboy’ has seized the imagination of fans, and jumped ahead of him in line for a ‘red panty night.’ Dana White told BJPenn.com:
“Yeah, I like that fight. They both have called each other out. First of all, Cowboy, tell me that last boring fight that guy was in. The answer is never. He just bust into the top-10 — warrior. Unbelievable fight he just had. And Conor McGregor has fought anybody we’ve ever asked him to. If these two want to fight I’m in.”
The fans want it too.
The Nurmagamedov camp has been trying to drive up interest in a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather. However, there’s literally zero fan enthusiasm for that match-up, and so he might end up finally fighting Tony Ferguson. The former interim champion has been booked four times to fight Khabib, with both men getting injured twice. Hopefully, it finally happens in 2019. White shut down talk of an immediate rematch between McGregor and Khabib. He said:
“I don’t want to say never— but not now. Khabib is going to have his suspension. I think what needs to happen is Khabib versus Tony Ferguson, do Conor vs. Cowboy, and if they both come out of that, we do the rematch.”
This does make sense. Nobody deserves a title fight more than Ferguson who is riding an 11 fight win streak and has defeated a whole line of killers. Many believe he has the tools to beat both McGregor and Khabib. It would be fascinating to see him finally take on the Russian.
Meanwhile, McGregor v Cerrone just feels fresh and exciting. Sure, the Irishman’s camp thinks it will be a very winnable match-up, but ‘Cowboy’ has hunger and is capable of beating anybody on his day. You don’t hold the record for most wins and knockouts in the UFC if you’re a pushover.