Yesterday, it was more or less confirmed that Khabib Nurmagomedov v. Tony Ferguson will once again not be happening. Khabib has been stuck in Russia due to travel restrictions all over the world. As a result of the coronavirus, the fight five years in the making will have to once again be paused.
This is something everyone is used to by now.
Here the timeline of the entire Nurmagomedov-Ferguson saga and where we stand today:
Feels Like The First Time (2015)
Back in August 2015, the UFC confirmed a fight between the two would be taking place in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 22. Around this time, Khabib was dealing with a number of injuries that sidelined him from 2014-2016. A month before the bout, Khabib, who defeated Rafael dos Anjos for his 22nd win at the time, suffered a rib injury and was forced out of the fight.
It appeared that Khabib might not be fighting ever again following the injury. On the other side, Ferguson beat Edson Barboza via submission.
Deja Vu (2016)
Now healthy, Khabib was set on facing Ferguson in April 2014 at UFC Tampa. This was after the active Ferguson wanted to face dos Anjos. The latter was supposed to face Conor McGregor, but had to back out due to a broken foot. The Khabib-Ferguson bout was all but set until Ferguson had to back out eleven days before the fight. This time, it was due to a lung issue.
Khabib ended up facing Darrell Horcher in the latter’s UFC debut. Horcher lost the bout in the second round via TKO. Khabib then demanded a title shot, something he has done multiple times since. At UFC 205 in November 2016, Khabib defeated Michael Johnson via submission. He then called out the winner of Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez and Conor McGregor. It was McGregor who would win the title, but would never end up defending the belt.
Ferguson came back and defeated Lando Vannata with his second D’Arce choke in a row. In November of that year he beat dos Anjos in Mexico City.
The Rule of Three
Following their bouts in November, Khabib and Ferguson were once again rumored to face one another. With McGregor holding the title hostage and fighting Floyd Mayweather, both were meant to fight for the interim title. there were road bumps along the way, however, due to the amount of money both fighters would make on their contracts.
Once everything was settled, the fight was made for UFC 209 on March 4. Just like the first fight, Khabib had to back out, this time right before the fight. This was a result of a weight cut gone bad, and Khabib needed to head to the hospital.
Ferguson ended up facing Kevin Lee for the interim title at UFC 216 in October. He won the title via submission, and focused his attention to McGregor. Coming back in December 2017, Khabib faced Edson Barboza at UFC 219. It was another one-sided fight, with Khabib, now 25-0, winning via unanimous decision.
The UFC returned to Brooklyn in 2018 for UFC 223, with Dana planning a main event around Khabib v. Ferguson for the undisputed Lightweight Title. McGregor, who has yet to defend the belt he won in 2016, was stripped of it.
Throwback to the time I watched Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) elbow metal for 15 minutes. He said he did it to make his bones harder. March 2018, preparing to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the title. Some of the most memorable interview exchanges of my career that day. pic.twitter.com/XpKjIx7G2H
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) March 31, 2020
In one of the most wildest few weeks in UFC history, Ferguson had to back out of the fight (April 1) after tearing his fibular collateral ligament while walking towards a media-obligated event. It was not an April Fool’s joke, but it sure felt like it. Max Holloway, the UFC Featherweight Champion, stepped in to face Khabib, but the NYAC would not allow him to cut weight in a short period of time. Needing a fighter, Al Iaquinta stepped up and gave it his all against Khabib, who beat him via unanimous decision. It was a solid effort by Iaquinta, who was supposed to face Paul Felder.
Oh, let’s not forget that the events news cycle was all about McGregor, who stormed the Barclays and tried to attack Khabib. The dolly incident ended up costing fighters a payday and created panic within the UFC.
The Waiting Room
Following UFC 223, Khabib faced McGregor and Dustin Poirier. The buildup between Khabib and Conor was anything but pleasant, with tension throughout the whole thing. Khabib took care of Conor with ease at UFC 229 in October 2018 before brawling with his team outside of the cage. Khabib was suspended and returned at UFC 242 in September 2019, beating Poirier via submission in the third round.
Meanwhile, Ferguson also returned to action in October 2018, beating Anthony Pettis via TKO in a wild affair. He dealt with a few family issues and worked on himself following personal problems before returning to action. Facing Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 in June, he beat “Cowboy” via TKO in a one-sided affair.
Once again, the fight between the two, with Khabib as champion, was on. Back in November Dana White confirmed the bout would be inside the Barclays Center for UFC 249 on April 18. Fans were skeptical because of their history, as well as the Barclay Center’s.
A few months later, the coronavirus pandemic took over. Events started to get postponed, with Dana White adamant that the show would go on. The New York Athletic Commission denied the UFC entry into Barclays while the Nevada Athletic Commission postponed all combat sports for the foreseeable future. Still, the UFC hoped the fight would still happen.
As of today (March 31, 2020), the fight is off. Nurmagomedov posted on Instagram that he is stuck in Russia due to travel restrictions. He returned there since gym’s in America were closed. With the United States also implementing a travel ban, it is impossible for Khabib to get back into the United States, or for Ferguson to head to Russia. As a result, he is self quarantining to avoid any damage done by the coronavirus.