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12 Oct, 2019 11:27

'March or April in New York': UFC insider suggests Khabib’s planned Russia homecoming for Ferguson bout may not happen (VIDEO)

'March or April in New York': UFC insider suggests Khabib’s planned Russia homecoming for Ferguson bout may not happen (VIDEO)

UFC insider Ariel Helwani says the promotion is targeting a spring date in New York for the lightweight title clash between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, putting in question talk of a Russian homecoming for Khabib.

Ferguson and Khabib have been booked to face each other on no fewer than four previous occasions, with the bouts falling apart for a variety of reasons related to injuries and weight-cut mishaps.

But the UFC appear set to tempt fate once again to place the 28-0 Russian champion inside a cage with the man many assume to be his biggest threat, the 25-3 Ferguson.

And according to ESPN's Helwani, plans to make the fight official are progressing.

"Do I know Khabib? Yes I have met him multiple times," Helwani said during an online Q&A with fans when asked for an update as to the details of his next performance.

"What is going on with Tony Ferguson? I suspect that Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib is going to happen March or April and I'm hearing that New York City is being discussed."

The news, which is far from confirmed at this point, is telling for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it comes in contrast to recent suggestions from the Khabib camp that his next fight might take place in his homeland. The figther himself recently said he was "80 percent sure" that his next fight would be in Russia, while he has named the giant Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg as his preferred venue.  

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In addition, it suggests that the Nurmagomedov camp is sticking to its guns when it comes to the fighter's insistence that he will no longer compete in Las Vegas due to what he saw as unfair treatment from the Nevada Athletic Commission with regard to the suspensions levied upon him and members of his team dating back to the UFC 229 post-fight brawl with members of Conor McGregor's team.

Should the fight indeed be located in New York, it would likely take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn - the same venue in which Khabib was scheduled to fight Ferguson in April 2018, which was canceled after the American injured his knee after tripping over electrical cable during pre-arranged media obligations.

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It was in the bowels of the same venue on that same weekend in which Conor McGregor would attack a bus containing the Russian champion which would ultimately lead to his arrest and amp up what was already a simmering rivalry between the two.