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Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson: How many times was the fight booked?

Tony Ferguson (left) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (right)
Tony Ferguson (left) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (right)
Nick Langton

Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov is a fight that the UFC faithful never got to see, and they probably will never see it. However, it wasn't because of a lack of trying on the UFC's part, as the fight was announced on five separate occasions.

The bout was one of the most anticipated in UFC history as Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were two of the best lightweights in the promotion. It all started in 2015 when the UFC confirmed that they had booked a fight between Khabib and Ferguson, who were the top contenders in the lightweight division at the time.

However, the Dagestani wrestler suffered a rib injury just two months later, and the fight was called off. Ferguson went about his business and finished Edson Barboza only for the UFC to give Conor McGregor the title shot.

The UFC booked Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson again in 2016, but Ferguson pulled out of the bout due to an injury.

This kept Ferguson out for a while, but he came back to win his fights and continued to ask for a title shot. Shortly afterward, the UFC booked the contest for a third time for the interim lightweight belt as then-champion McGregor prepared to fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match.

However, it all went wrong again as Khabib fell ill during the weight cut. The fight had to be canceled just a day before they were set to meet in the octagon, and UFC president Dana White was understandably incensed after Khabib had to pull out.

The UFC then booked the bout for the fourth time in 2018. This time around, it was Tony Ferguson who required surgery on his lateral collateral ligament


Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson gets canceled by the pandemic

By now, it seemed that the MMA gods didn't want to see the fight happen. When the UFC booked the bout for a fifth time in 2020, the world was skeptical. This time around, both fighters remained healthy, but the COVID-19 pandemic became a hurdle they couldn't overcome.

Khabib Nurmagomedov was stuck in Dagestan and couldn't travel, and hence, Ferguson fought and lost to Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title. Now that Khabib has retired and Tony Ferguson is on a three-fight losing streak, the fight will likely never happen.


Edited by Utathya Ghosh

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