With UFC 248 now in the books, the MMA world has turned its attention to the UFC’s next pay-pay-view offering – which just happens to be one of the most anticipated fights in recent history.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson have been booked to face each other no less than four times in the past, and, on each of these occasions, something has happened to prevent one of the participants from making the walk to the Octagon on fight night.
Whether it be due to injuries or weight-cut issues, the fight – first scheduled in 2015 – has never taken place. Such has been the wait for the bout that fans have frequently referred to the match-up as the most cursed in UFC history.
Everyone, then, will have their fingers crossed that it is a case of fifth-time lucky on April 18, when Khabib (28-0) defends his UFC lightweight championship against top contender Ferguson (25-3) at the Barclays Center in New York at UFC 249.
Ahead of the long-awaited showdown, the UFC have released their first promotional video for the fight – which certainly does not shy away from the bout’s tumultuous history.
Set to a backdrop of a song featuring the lyrics “It’s a nice day to start again”, Khabib opens the video by talking about the importance of a victory over Ferguson to his career.
“I am undefeated, undisputed lightweight champion, 28-0. I dominate every single opponent. Nobody even close. I am on a different level and everybody knows. But even if I beat Iaquinta, Conor, Poirier. For my legacy, I have to beat Tony Ferguson.”
Despite the obvious frustration of fans over the considerable wait for the fight, it may well be that the delay will make the eventual spectacle even better. Both men have undoubtedly improved as mixed martial artists over the years. Indeed, Khabib has captured the lightweight title and remained undefeated, whilst Ferguson currently rides a 12-fight winning streak.
These improvements are highlighted by heavyweight contender (and UFC commentator) Daniel Cormier in the video.
“This should have happened before. I’m glad it’s happening now because there’s more at stake in this match-up then there ever would been,” suggests Cormier.
For his part, Ferguson recognises that he must perform against Khabib, especially after waiting so long for his shot at the champion.
“I’ve been putting years into getting ready for this fight, so I’ve gotta make that worth something. I’m gonna win that belt man! Been aiming for that for a long time.”
Khabib also referred to the pair’s history in his final remarks, promising an emphatic victory on fight night.
“We have very big history…Finally we are gonna fight and I’m gonna smash him in front of everybody!”
As the video concludes, UFC announcer Joe Rogan hypes the bout as the “most important fight in the history of the lightweight division”. It is a point that is hard to argue.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we are just a little under five weeks away from finally discovering who the better man is.
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