Khabib Nurmagomedov’s next opponent might not be who you expect…

Khabib Nurmagomedov has recently expressed interest in fighting at UFC 219 on December 30th this year. The UFC’s annual end-of-year show is always one of their biggest, which is probably why Khabib wants on the card.

Last year, the UFC concluded 2016 with the main event of Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey. As of yet, UFC has not officially announced a headline fight for this year’s event.

In an interview with MMA Fighting earlier this week, Khabib expressed interest in fighting Tony Ferguson at UFC 219.

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Khabib Nurmagomedov Calls Out Tony Ferguson

Earlier this week, Khabib told media he was not going to angle for a big-money fight with Conor McGregor as many had expected him to. Instead, Khabib stated he wants to face interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson.

When asked why he wanted to face Ferguson instead of Conor, this is what Khabib had to say:

“Because, my opinion, I think Tony Ferguson is the real champion. That’s why. I don’t think, if I fight versus Tony Ferguson, this is an interim belt. Officially, yes. But people want to see me versus Tony Ferguson. I think this is a much better fight, for everything. If I beat Tony Ferguson and take the interim championship belt — Conor’s the official champion, but he’s not the people’s champion.”

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Reputation as a “Pull-Out Artist”

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson were scheduled to fight for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209. Unfortunately, Khabib took ill after cutting weight and had to pull out of the fight last minute.

Khabib, who has only fought 4x in the last 3.5 years, has been saddled with a reputation as a pull-out artist. This fact makes it hard for the UFC to schedule him in another main event fight. The UFC has lost numerous big fights at the last minute this year; it is unlikely they take the risk of putting Khabib in a high-profile fight for one of the biggest shows of the year.

The promotion does seem to have offered Khabib a fight at UFC 219, however, it just might not be the one he wanted.

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Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Edson Barboza

UFC lightweight Edson Barboza is on a 3-fight win streak which includes victories over Beneil Dariush, Gilbert Melendez, and former champion, Anthony Pettis. His last loss inside the octagon was to Tony Ferguson in late 2015.

Barboza has a UFC record of 13-4. His debut for the promotion came at UFC 123. It was the first of 4 straight victories to start his tenure with the company. While he has lost on 4 occasions, they were all top fighters.

The fight which took away his “0” was a 1st round KO at the hands of former WEC champion, Jamie Varner. He lost to Donald Cerrone in 2014 and Michael Johnson the following year.

Here is what Edson Barboza had to say about a potential match-up with the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov:

“They offered me this fight and I accepted it,” Barboza said. “I said I’ll be ready for December 30, and it’s on him now. We’ll see what he does. I saw an interview with him yesterday and he said he’ll fight me if Conor fights Ferguson, and Dana already said that fight will happen, so I believe my next fight will be against Khabib.”

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Ian is a MMA writer based out of Toronto, ON Canada. An avid mixed martial arts enthusiast and passionate fan since he was born, Ian has been writing about mixed martial arts for over 5 years.