Khabib Refuses Interim Title Fight
According to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, Nurmagomedov refuses to fight for the interim lightweight title.
“Khabib’s next fight, we’re not fighting for no damn interim belt,” Abdelaziz said.
“We want the real belt, or we don’t want nothing. We appreciate everything the UFC has done for us, but it’s time for a real belt. Nobody is interested in fighting for a fake belt. Tony Ferguson has a fake belt. Nobody wants this.”
Nurmagomedov dictated the pace of his unanimous decision victory over Edson Barboza last month at UFC 219. Following the fight, Nurmagomedov said he hoped to fight three times in 2018: once before May, then in September and followed by December.
The very tight time table is due to Nurmagomedov, a devout Muslim, refusing to fight during Ramadan, which means the UFC would have to book him before the start of Ramadan in mid-May.
“If in the first third of Ramadan, then this is normal: Khabib will not begin to weaken,” said Abdulmanap. “In fact, eight days before the fight, when he makes weight, he already eats little and eats less than in Ramadan after sunset. Until May 22, we are ready to take the fight.”
According to MMA Fighting, the UFC is considering a pay-per-view in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 7th, which would be a perfect location for a potential Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson title fight considering the large Russian population in Brooklyn. The re is no official decision from the UFC in regards to the three-man logjam atop the lightweight division.
Joe Rogan predicted on his podcast, Thursday, that the UFC would strip Conor McGregor of the lightweight belt and book Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov for the undisputed title. Ferguson, who just had elbow surgery, has yet to provide an update as to when he could possibly return to action.
Nurmagomedov’s father, Abdulmanap, told local Russian media this week, that if Nurmagomedov couldn’t get a fight against either McGregor or Ferguson next that he would like to see his son fight Eddie Alvarez. A fight with Alvarez may not happen as he is on the last fight of his UFC contract with no new deal in sight.
So while the UFC has some big decisions to make regarding one of its deepest weight classes, one thing appears to be certain: Nurmagomedov is not interested in fighting for an interim title.