Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is quite possibly the greatest “What If?” in MMA history.
The fight, scheduled five different times over the course of five years, was scrapped each and every time. And despite the hype of the fight and the heat between the two men, the situation could not be more different only two years removed from the last time the fight was scheduled.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired, and the once red-hot Tony Ferguson is now on a four-fight losing streak.
Ferguson, however, still feels there is unfinished business with Khabib, even if they’ll never step into the octagon across from each other. During his appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani this past Monday, Ferguson proposed the idea that Khabib and himself coach against each other in a season of the Ultimate Fighter. An idea that in all practicality actually does make a level of sense.
Ferguson is still a big name who the UFC can market, but after his last few fights, ‘El Cucuy’ needs a long break and a step down in opponent. Khabib may be retired, but still holds an amicable relationship with the UFC and Dana White. This fight is one that people have said for many years needed to happen. Unfortunately, we will likely never fight in the octagon for a UFC Lightweight Title, the MMA community would still love to see them compete against each other and tie a bow around one of the greatest rivalries in MMA history.
Following Ferguson’s comments on The MMA Hour, Khabib Nurmagomedov took to social media and seemingly agreed to the idea of meeting his longtime rival on a season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Ferguson replied minutes later, in typical Tony Ferguson fashion.
Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov Could Give TUF a Significant Boost in Viewership
The Ultimate Fighter has been a recipient of some scrutiny since the return of the series in 2021. Members of the MMA fanbase and media have questioned the role of the reality TV show when there is also Dana White’s Contender Series, which airs more often and is a much quicker road into the UFC.
The current season of The Ultimate Fighter, which features Julianna Peña facing off against Amanda Nunes as opposing coaches, appears to have been met with something even worse than scrutiny; apathy. The season has only been airing for roughly three weeks, but it would seem that the MMA community is not overly compelled to make watching part of their weekly routine.
The Ultimate Fighter: Khabib vs. Ferguson could change that.
Despite the relative downturn of Tony Ferguson’s career as of late, the MMA community rallies around him every chance they get. Khabib’s career transition into becoming a coach and a promoter has brought out more personality than we were ever able to see while he was fighting. A full season of the two coaching against each other would be incredible television, especially if it looks anything like their press conferences did.
A full season of watching the two go back and forth while competing against each other as coaches could finally close the book on the legendary rivalry. While it isn’t the resolution everyone wanted to see, it would be a resolution nonetheless.
Both men are beloved by the MMA community, and people would undoubtedly tune in every week to see them. And let’s be honest, watching Tony Ferguson coach a team of fighters could be a weekly TV show in and of itself. The two of them want to compete against one another, and at this point in their respective careers, The Ultimate Fighter is the perfect medium.
The Ultimate Fighter: Khabib vs. Ferguson would be must-see TV and the ultimate win-win for the UFC and ESPN. Not only would they almost certainly put on a phenomenal season, but it could be a shot of new life into a show that has seemed to possibly run its course with the fanbase that once loved it.
To save The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC needs Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson, take six.
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images