Last weekend, the UFC returned to the combat sport mecca of Las Vegas, Nevada, with UFC 209. Unfortunately, it made this Vegas return without its originally planned co-main event: an interim lightweight title fight between undefeated Dagestani star Khabib Nurmagomedov, and streaking American contender Tony Ferguson. This fight was cancelled on the eve of battle, when Nurmagomedov was hospitalized, and unable to weigh in for battle as a result.
With this unfortunate twist of fate, many fans have called for a rescheduling of this Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson bout. According to three-time UFC title challenger, current Bellator star, and polarizing MMA analyst Chael Sonnen, however, this is not likely to be the way things unfold. Instead, he believes Nurmagomedov has likely lost his opportunity to fight for interim lightweight gold, and therefor his chance to fight undisputed lightweight champ Conor McGregor down the road. That opportunity, Sonnen says, will next go to Nate Diaz – McGregor’s biggest rival.
“This caused Khabib Nurmagomedov long term effects,” Sonnen told ESPN (via BloodyElbow.com). “I’ll tell you the politics here. Dana White comes back from Russia, announces that he has a new TV deal. 48 hours later, he announces that the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson will be taking on Conor McGregor.”
“You don’t need to put on your Colombo rain jacket to realize, Conor McGregor vs the favorite, Khabib Nurmagomedov was going to happen on the debut of the Russian TV deal,” Sonnen continued. “It is likely gone! And I believe it goes to Nate Diaz.”
Clearly, there is some merit to these claims from Sonnen. They do, however, ignore the fact that McGregor is currently transfixed on a boxing mega fight with semi-retired boxing great Floyd Mayweather.
Do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov has lost his chance to fight for lightweight gold? Sound off, PENN Nation!