Breaking: WE GOT A FIGHT. Per Tony Ferguson’s (@TonyFergusonXT) management Ballengee Group, Tony has signed his contract to face Khabib Nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) on April 18 in Brooklyn. More coming to @espn shortly. pic.twitter.com/cgwCucPl3v— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 30, 2019
The fifth time should be the charm for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is official for lightweight gold in April.
According to ESPN on Friday, Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Ferguson (25-3) will finally meet for the lightweight belt. The two will square off at an upcoming pay-per-view card on April 18, which will be held in Brooklyn, New York, at a yet unannounced venue -- although each of the three UFC trips to the city have been held at the Barclays Center. The two have been matched up four times in the past, with each man falling out of the fight twice for various reasons.
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were first slated to meet at the TUF 22 Finale in 2015, and Nurmagomedov injured his rib and was replaced by Edson Barboza. Later in 2016, they were planning to come to blows at UFC on Fox 19, but this time Ferguson withdrew after he injured his lung. The third planned encounter between the two came at UFC 209 in 2017, and Nurmagomedov was hospitalized after a bad weight cut and the fight was scuttled the day of the weigh-ins. Finally, they were set to lock horns at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, but Ferguson injured his knee when tripping on a cable after giving an interview on fight week.
"The Eagle" has yet to taste defeat as a professional, and has only lost one single round across 12 bouts in the Octagon. Capturing the vacant lightweight strap against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 by decision, he went on to tap Conor McGregor in October 2018 and Dustin Poirier in September to defend the throne both times. Against Poirier, he unified the belt, as Poirier held the interim title after defeating Max Holloway at UFC 236 in April. If Nurmagomedov successfully defends the crown, he will tie the record for the most championship defenses of any lightweight king with three.
Ferguson is riding an almost unprecedented 12-fight win streak -- the same as Nurmagomedov -- finishing his opponent in nine of those bouts. Only five fighters throughout UFC history have held longer winning streaks: Anderson Silva, Demetrious Johnson, Georges St. Pierre, Jon Jones and Holloway. Across this impressive win streak, "El Cucuy" has taken home eight post-fight bonuses in his last eight victories. His last three wins have come over Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis and Kevin Lee, all by stoppage.