UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov recently confirmed that he is indeed in negotiations to fight Tony Ferguson when he returns to the Octagon. He also confirmed that there is a route to a Conor McGregor rematch.
There are stumbling blocks along the road to both.
A McGregor rematch seems the longest of shots. According to RT Sport, Nurmagomedov gave a path to a rematch, but at McGregor's current pace of taking fights, the Dagestani champion would likely be retired well before the Irishman could meet the mark.
“As for a rematch (with Conor McGregor), to fight for a belt in the UFC, I remember I had something like nine or 10 fights. If he wins 10 fights in a row, then that’s completely possible,” Nurmagomedov said.
The title defense against Ferguson is much more likely to happen, although there are roadblocks in the current negotiation.
UFC president Dana White has openly admitted that they were working on Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson and targeting March 2020 for the bout. Nurmagomedov confirmed those details, but added that the UFC is pitching Las Vegas as the location for the bout.
Nurmagomedov is all well and good with all of that, but there is a stipulation. The Nevada State Athletic Commission must apologize to him.
Yes, you read that correctly. Nurmagomedov wants an apology for having been fined for his part in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl that he was engaged in with McGregor's team.
“We’re in talks now [for the Ferguson fight],” Nurmagomedov said. “They suggested having it in Las Vegas in March, but they have to issue me an official apology for fining me for the incident on Oct. 6, 2018.”
Nurmagomedov was eventually suspended for nine months and fined $500,000 for having jumped over the Octagon cage and attacking McGregor's cornermen after having submitted the Irishman in the fourth round. That hasn't sat well with him. Nurmagomedov believes he's owed an apology and appears ready to decline fighting in Las Vegas until he gets one.
“If they apologize, I’ll fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “If not, we’ll pick another venue. I’ll fight in April in New York. I’ll be ready in April, March if Vegas apologizes or gives me back my money.
“Those are my conditions. We’re in talks now.”