Light every candle you have, cross every finger on your hand. We are only four weeks out from UFC 223 and this will be the fourth time we’ve looked forward to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s fight with Tony Ferguson. There is no interim belt. There is only the real belt now, according to Dana White. Nurmagomedov destroyed everyone behind him and waited at White’s car to make what he wanted happen and he has it. Now, we just have to hope and pray that the most important fight right now in the UFC goes down when it’s supposed to.
“Ranking is very important for UFC, but for me it’s nothing. For me, important only victory. When I go to the cage, I have to always win and I have to show my best performance. This is most important. About ranking, I don’t care […] Only four weeks before fight, tough opponent, real belt on the line. Ten win streak versus nine win streak. UFC never make this fight. 25 years UFC history, they never make fight like this fight. This is high level fight. This is going to be very good for fans, for guy who gonna take this belt, UFC gonna make money. Everyone gonna be happy because this fight very high level fight and this fight most important fight in UFC today.”
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) March 9, 2018
“First of all it’s about real belt, this is not interim championship, this is not Tony Ferguson belt, this is not Conor McGregor belt, this is real belt. I’m not going to fight Tony Ferguson fake belt. I’m not going to fight Conor McGregor belt when he win this fight almost three years ago. I’m going to fight real belt and this is big motivation. Five round, big fight. We are supposed to fight three times now. […] I’m going to make this fight easy. People gonna talk about this fight, ‘Wow, nobody do this before with Tony Ferguson.’ Like I do with Michael Johnson, like I do Rafael dos Anos, I like I do with Edson Barboza, with everybody. Who beat them like this? I’m gonna do this again with Tony Ferguson.” — Khabib Nurmagomedov speaking to Kevin Iole.
There is no question in anyone’s minds that this fight will decide who is the absolute best lightweight in the entire world. Who knows if it will be a golden ticket to fight Conor McGregor or not, but it may not even matter. Eddie Alvarez is still waiting on the perfect fight after his incredible and grueling war with Justin Gaethje, while Gaethje will be fighting Dustin Poirier to hold his position just outside the top five. We can’t make any future plans until the cage locks behind Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at UFC 223.
— UFC (@ufc) March 4, 2018
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/10/2018.