Despite the absence of multiple MMA stars, UFC president Dana White continues to find ways to start 2018 with thrill and excitement. White recently announced the first two title fights of the year that are expected to rock the world of mixed martial arts.
In an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, Dana White revealed that UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will be next challenger of Cris Cyborg for the featherweight title. At UFC 219, Cyborg successfully defended the belt after defeating Holly Holm via unanimous decision. After the fight, the UFC women’s featherweight champion has been calling out Megan Anderson. She recently announced that Anderson will be her opponent at UFC 221. However, Anderson denied Cyborg’s claims and called it “fake news.”
Before the fight, Nunes’ camp already expressed interest in fighting the winner of Holm-Cyborg bout. According to MMAjunkie, Cyborg said in the past that she would rather face legit contenders in her division than a fellow Brazilian. However, if Nunes will insist, she’s ready to give her the opportunity to be her next challenger. UFC president Dana White is aware of Nunes’ desire to fight Cris Cyborg. He believes the reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion deserves to be Cyborg’s next challenger.
“Amanda Nunes is a big, strong, powerful puncher. I think she matches up very well with Cyborg too, and I think that’s a fun fight. And that’s the fight to make.”
The second title fight UFC president Dana White announced is the continuation of the rivalry between Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. When UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor decided to take a break from MMA, Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were supposed to fight at UFC 209 for the interim belt. Unfortunately, Nurmagomedov pulled out from the fight after feeling ill due to weight cut.
Ferguson became the interim champion after defeating Kevin Lee at UFC 216 via submission while Nurmagomedov strengthened his chance for a title shot after beating Edson Barboza at UFC 219. According to White, the potential fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov will depend on McGregor’s plan in 2018.
If he’s willing to fight by March, the UFC will immediately schedule Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov for the interim lightweight title championship. The winner will be given the opportunity to face McGregor for the real title. If McGregor decides to extend his vacation, the UFC will force him to vacate the lightweight belt and give it to the winner of the Ferguson-Nurmagomedov bout.