Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will fight for the interim lightweight title in nine days. They will meet at the Tachi Palace Casino in California, on Indian grounds. This means they can bypass Californian regulations about social distancing as well as the California State Athletic Commission’s own stance.
Khabib Nurmagamedov is watching on from Russia. He knows that he will probably fight the winner of this interim belt. We say probably because you never know what will happen in MMA. Ferguson was already stripped of one interim title. But he’s not the only man with a stake in this fight.
No, Conor McGregor will also be very interested in this one. This could actually work out incredibly well for the Irishman. In a game of high stakes, there’s a good chance he’ll get his own shot at the interim title. Khabib might not even be able to say no.
The short of it is this: whoever loses out of Ferguson v Gaethje is out of the title picture. That’s especially harsh on MMA fans and ‘El Cucuy.’ We’re desperate for that Tony v Khabib fight but it may never happen now. Meanwhile, McGregor finds himself looking up the ladder.
Khabib v the interim champion is the obvious match-up after this. But it’s not that easy. Even if the borders reopen soon there’s another obstacle in his way. Ramadan. A devout Muslim, Khabib isn’t going to be back in action until at least September.
In short, this leaves the door open for McGregor to fight the interim champion. A championship fight against McGregor would be more lucrative than a unification fight with Khabib. It would also be an incredible opportunity for the UFC to try and get a strap on McGregor’s shoulders and then set up that Khabib rematch. This would do massive numbers.
However, Dana White said that McGregor will have to get in line. Unless he ends up fighting the loser of Ferguson v Gaethje, that’s not going to happen. We all know the influence he has over the UFC President.
“Everybody felt that if Conor was going to get a shot at Khabib that actually Gaethje should get it before Conor,” White said when speaking to ESPN. “I mean it couldn’t have worked out any better. You get Gaethje vs. Tony. It’s the fight that makes sense. It’s two of the top guys in the world. Khabib is out so the winner will face Khabib.”
“This impacts everybody. There’s three fights that have already been postponed, we’re going to work out over the next several weeks and I don’t know where this puts anybody. Conor really wants that rematch with Khabib. Well Khabib and Tony or Gaethje won’t fight now until probably September.”
Meanwhile, Ali Abdelaziz had to give his take. The world’s most annoying MMA promoter went in hard on McGregor. Speaking to TMZ Sports, he even called the Irishman a ‘jealous prostitute.’ He also said that McGregor is a coward for not stepping up. This is despite the fact that the US is not allowing visitors from Ireland or the rest of the EU. He said:
”You’re telling everybody to stay home, now Khabib — the government of Russia says he can’t travel. You’re going to call him a chicken?! Conor doesn’t matter. Conor is not #1, he’s not #2, he’s not #3. It’s Khabib, Justin, Tony. Conor is #4.
He’s not even in the conversation right now. He’s just like a jealous prostitute, she’s got too old for her to make money. Why don’t you even jump on a plane and come fight Tony Ferguson? I bet he understands that Tony Ferguson would beat his ass too, “ Abdelaziz continued. “All those 3 guys would beat his ass. Justin, Tony and Khabib.”