A penny for the thoughts of Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The UFC’s 155-pound landscape has become that much clearer after Dana White revealed that top contenders Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee will likely meet to determine the interim UFC lightweight champion at UFC 216 in Las Vegas next October.
This comes after several failed attempts to arrange a bout between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, the two fighters generally considered to be the #1 and #2 ranked contenders to Conor McGregor’s championship, most recently at UFC 209 in March when the Russian fighter was forced to withdraw at the eleventh hours following complications in his weight cut.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday (as reported by ESPN), confirmed that talks between the UFC and the two fighters to arrange the bout are at an advanced stage.
“Yeah, that’s for sure,” White said of the pairing, though stressed that the UFC 216 date for the fight in the T-Mobile Arena isn’t yet locked down.
Where this leaves Nurmagomedov in the title picture remains unclear, though it has been suggested that the organisation are targeting a bout between him and Edson Barboza for later in the year, though the Brazilian remains off the active roster as her recovers from shoulder surgery for an injury sustained prior to his bout with Beneil Dariush last March. He had previously suggested that he might be fully fit by October or November.
This timeline seems to sync with that of Nurmagomedov, who White says still isn’t ready to compete.
“Khabib is not ready,” White continued. “He had surgery and he’s just not ready. It is what it is.”
Ferguson has won nine straight in the UFC, while Lee owns fight straight wins in his current run.