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Khabib Out of UFC 249? Three Potential Opponents for Tony Ferguson

According to multiple sources, earlier today Khabib Nurmagomedov claimed the following on IG Live, “As far as I know, the UFC are looking for an opponent for Tony Ferguson. Since I can’t fly out of Russia, and Tony is in the United States. We left the US because the UFC told us that the tournament would be 99 percent held in Abu Dhabi.” making fans once again question the likelihood of the seemingly doomed matchup between himself and fellow Lightweight kingpin Tony Ferguson.

With speculation running high, who could we see standing opposite Tony Ferguson on April 18th in Brooklyn?

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

Cerrone last fought at UFC 246 in a losing effort to Conor McGregor.

When in doubt, the UFC has always been able to rely on its resident wildman. Donald Cerrone is no stranger to short camps, quick weight cuts and is revered by fans and fighters alike for his, “Anyone, anywhere, anytime” attitude. With Cerrone and Ferguson’s UFC 238 bout ending somewhat controversially, this is always a fight that could be run back, with Dana White saying as much in the UFC 238 post-fight presser. Though maybe the least-enticing fight on this list for the fans due to the odds being massively in Ferguson’s favour, one could argue it is the most likely if Nurmagomedov is unable to compete on April 18th.

Justin Gaethje

Gathje celebrates following his UFC FN 158 knockout of Donald Cerrone.

Justin Gaethje vs Tony Ferguson… need I say more?

Ferguson vs Gaethje is a fight that MMA fans worldwide have fantasized about for years now. With Ferguson’s constant pressure and seemingly never-ending cardio, along with Gaethje’s pure grit and ability to drag you into a brawl, this fight is almost a guaranteed FOTY candidate. Ferguson and Gaethje both are on impressive win streaks, with both scoring TKO wins over the aforementioned Donald Cerrone in their previous fights. The odds would be even in my book for this one, with Gaethje being a fiercely powerful striker with laser accuracy in his hands and Tony Ferguson being a relentless technician. The fight between the two most violent men in the UFC could come sooner than we think.

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor following his UFC 246 win over Donald Cerrone.

How can we talk about the UFC Lightweight Title picture without bringing up the biggest star in combat sports, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor? With two UFC titles under his belt, as well as a 40-second KO of Donald Cerrone in his previous bout. It is hard to argue that McGregor hasn’t shot himself back into title contention at 155. Many fans believe his fight against Cowboy shouldn’t affect his standing in the 155lb rankings, due to it being held at the Welterweight limit of 170 lbs. However, it is hard to argue that his stock hasn’t risen from the quick finish of Cerrone.

If we know anything about the UFC, it is that they give the fans the fights they want to see. Even if that means ignoring the rankings. What fight outside of a Khabib rematch could be bigger right now than a McGregor vs Ferguson bout? The King vs The Boogeyman, could we see it sooner than we thought?

Though the future of this fight is cloudy, and the idea of it not happening is hardly set in stone. I think many fans will agree that Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov is the fight the UFC Lightweight division needs. Although the fights listed above could be barn-burners, we need to know who the best Lightweight on the planet is, and for that, we need Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov standing opposite each other. Maybe now is not the time. However, I have a feeling this isn’t the last we hear of a matchup between these two.


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