Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson is one matchup that never saw the light of day. The matchup was one of the most in demand, touted and warranted fights in the history of the UFC. Regardless, the fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson never took place inside the Octagon.
The two never competed in Submission Underground either.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that the two never signed the dotted line to face each other. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson were scheduled to fight each other five times over their combined careers in the UFC.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson: The timeline of cancellations
The first booking between 'The Eagle' and Ferguson was made for the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 22 in December 2015. Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled out of the bout in October citing a knee injury. The bout was then rescheduled for April 2016.
The bout scheduled for April became the pairing's second cancelation. This time around, Tony Ferguson ended up pulling out of the bout with Khabib due to a lung issue.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson then spent their time tackling other fighters on the roster before being paired again at UFC 209 in March 2017. The two were scheduled to fight each other for the Interim Lightweight title. At the time, 'The Notorious' Conor McGregor was the undisputed lightweight champion. However, his shift to boxing necessitated the presence of an interim champion.
Yet again, the hype surrounding the fight between the two elite lightweights fizzled out as Khabib Nurmagomedov fell out. The Dagestani fighter had a devastating experience while cutting weight and fell ill in the process.
The fabled pairing was booked for a fourth time to take place at UFC 223 in April 2018. Carrying on with the pattern, Tony Ferguson pulled out of the fight citing a knee injury. Khabib Nurmagomedov ultimately went on to face Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 to win the vacant UFC lightweight title.
The fifth bout between the two was booked for UFC 249, originally in April 2020. Unfortunately, the onset of COVID-19 stranded Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia, and he could not travel for the fight. Tony Ferguson instead faced Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 249 (ultimately held on May 9, 2020) for the interim UFC lightweight title.
Justin Gaethje put on a striking master-class to end Tony Ferguson's 12-fight win streak. 'The Highlight' beat Tony Ferguson via TKO in round 5.
Chael Sonnen teased a Submission Underground event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson
Submission Underground presenter Chael Sonnen teased an event featuring Khabib Nurmagomedov and 'El Cucuy'. In doing so, Sonnen riled up the entire MMA community for the sixth time. Sonnen made sure to state that no such event was actually taking place.