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8 Jun, 2022 10:45

UFC boss reveals hopes for Khabib-Ferguson clash

The UFC is plotting Khabib Nurmagomedov's return
UFC boss reveals hopes for Khabib-Ferguson clash

If Khabib Nurmagomedov has ruled out returning as an active fighter, UFC president Dana White appears to be pursuing the next best thing after he confirmed his interest in the undefeated Russian star coaching on an upcoming season of the popular reality television series 'The Ultimate Fighter'.

Last month, Khabib's longtime rival Tony Ferguson proposed the idea of coaching opposite the fighter whom he was lined up to fight on several occasions before fate (or various injuries, depending on your take) - with Nurmagomedov quickly indicating his interest on Twitter.

"Tony I like the idea about TUF, call your bosses and let them make an offer," wrote Khabib in response, before adding that he would also welcome Ferguson into his Eagle FC fight league. 

But if they don’t have ideas, I myself will offer you a deal on the Eagle FC platform, we doing some business here you know.”

And after the two longtime lightweight rivals appeared to find an accord, UFC boss Dana White has also stated his interest.

So you’re telling me, you guys as fans, media, whatever it might be, like the idea of two guys possibly coaching that wouldn’t fight each other?” White said to The Spinning Backfist MMA Show.

Should a deal be agreed, it would represent something of a proxy war between two fighters who topped the rankings at 155lbs for much of the past ten years or so, and who both held 12-fight win streaks in the ultra-competitive UFC lightweight division.

Ferguson, though, has seen a downturn in results since he suffered a TKO loss to Justin Gaethje in 2020 and has now lost four straight fights - the most recent of which was a devastating knockout defeat against Michael Chandler. 

Both remain well-respected figures in mixed martial arts, however, and Dana White added that he likely wouldn't be able to resist an attempt at convincing Khabib to return for one final fight in the Octagon.

Hopefully they’ll get pissed off enough at each other that they actually want to fight and I can make them fight,” White said.

I’m in. You sold me.”

But if the plan does come to fruition, don't expect Nurmagomedov to don the 4oz gloves one last time.

“There have not been any negotiations regarding participation in The Ultimate Fighter with Ferguson. As for the fight, Khabib is not going to return. He has already retired,” a member of the Russian's inner circle said to the TASS news agency.