No. 1-ranked lightweight contender Tony Ferguson is currently battling with mental health issues and is expected to be out of action for the foreseeable future.
The dream match-up, of course, is a championship tilt between Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. But, speaking to RT Sport in a recent interview, reigning lightweight champ Nurmagomedov told ‘El Cucuy’ that family always comes before sport and wished the 35-year-old a healthy recovery.
“I really didn’t want to go into details, because I myself wouldn’t want to have that sort of attention,” Khabib said. ”I can only imagine how hard it is for him. Especially since it’s about his family. Again, I didn’t follow it closely, I just read some things on the internet.
“May God give him good health and the best of luck.
”Sport is sport, but family is family. And let’s hope he’ll return. It’s very strange to see him away, he has an 11-fight win streak in the lightweight division. And now he’s on the sidelines.”
Nurmagomedov went on to say that Ferguson is currently going through one of life’s many tests and that the former interim lightweight titleholder will only grow and come out stronger through the experience.
“I guess that just means that at this moment in time he has to go through this test,” he said. “Each person faces their own challenge. Some people get ill, some people let money or fame go to their heads, some people drink. Someone is a champion who doesn’t have time for training.
”So each person faces their own challenge. And it looks like he will have to go through his own challenge. Let’s hope he’ll come out as a winner and come back. And hopefully we’ll fight one day.”
Khabib believes a title fight versus Ferguson is currently the most anticipated fight in the UFC.
“Yes, it’s a great fight. It’s one of the best… Not even one of the best, it’s the most anticipated fight in the UFC. ”I’ve been told about it by the UFC owners, because they monitor what people say on the internet.
”This is the most anticipated fight at the moment. So let’s hope he comes back,” he added.
With Ferguson on the sidelines, Nurmagomedov is expected to defend his title against the winner of the upcoming interim lightweight title bout between Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway. Poirier vs. Holloway will serve as the headlining attraction for UFC 236, set to take place next Saturday, April 13 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.