Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson was supposed to be a huge fight at UFC 209, with plenty at stake.
Instead, Nurmagomedov was a shocking scratch for the pay-per-view event just one day before he was expected to step into the octagon. Ferguson went on to sit out of the event, and UFC 209 struggled to generate buzz at the top of the card.
Nurmagomedov released his first statement since he was hospitalized days before his big fight with Ferguson, and he knows he failed fans that wanted to see "The Eagle" go to work on Ferguson.
"I know that many people was waiting for this fight and I fail them," Nurmagomedov wrote to fans and supporters on Instagram. The full statement can be read below:
That he also apologized to Ferguson, who spent time with his camp preparing for a fight that ultimately never happened, is a classy move from Khabib.
The latest failed fight between the two is the third time Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were in line to fight, only to have the bout cancelled heading into the card.
Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were set to battle for the interim UFC lightweight championship, and the winner would likely have been in line for a mega-fight with Conor McGregor.
Instead, Khabib was forced to sit out because of health issues related to his dropping weight ahead of weigh-ins. Ferguson had an optional fight on the table, but because the purse was much lower than what he would have gotten in his bout with Nurmagomedov, he did not take it.
It's unclear what comes next for both fighters, with Nurmagomedov sitting at the top of the division but failing to secure the kind of victory that would have pushed him to a showdown with The Notorious.
Trying to line up Nurmagomedov and Ferguson for a fourth time might be the best plan of action, especially if Khabib can return to action sooner rather than later. The two fighting camps are clearly very familiar with one another, even if there's yet to be an official fight.
The good news for fans of Nurmagomedov is his health is fine now and it doesn't appear to be an issue that should sidetrack him any further. How quickly the UFC works to get him back into the octagon is the next question, but the latest chapter appears to be closed.
Do you think the UFC should try to make the Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson fight happen again, or is it time to move on? Let us know in the comments!
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms