February 1, 2019
No Conor McGregor Rematch Yet: Khabib Nurmagomedov Could Fight Tony Ferguson Next

Fans will have to wait for a rematch between lightweights Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, according to UFC President Dana White during a recent appearance on ESPN's Now or Never. Instead of the sure-to-be anticipated rematch, White floated Tony Ferguson as the next potential matchup for Nurmagomedov, setting up a likely title defense before Nurmagomedov and McGregor would again set foot in the octagon together.

"I don't want to say never — but not now," White said, discussing the rematch. "[Nurmagomedov] is going to have his suspension. I think what needs to happen is Khabib versus Tony Ferguson, do Conor vs. Cowboy, and if they both come out of that, we do the rematch."

In any case, it will be closer to the end of the year before the possibility of seeing Nurmagomedov in the octagon. Despite being technically eligible to fight again as soon as July, Nurmagomedov has vowed to stay out of competition until his cousin, Abubakar Nurmagomedov, and teammate, Zubaira Tukhugov, have themselves finished out their own suspensions stemming from the post-fight brawl immediately following UFC 229. Their suspensions continue until October 6.

UFC 229 was the highest-selling pay-per-view event in UFC history.

After the post-fight melee, Las Vegas police brought the confusion under control with no serious injuries or arrests. The Nevada commission's findings were released following an investigation, with sanctions issued based on negotiations with the Nevada attorney general.

Both McGregor and Nurmagomedov are now serving suspensions handed down by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in response to the incident. In addition to the suspensions, a $50,000 fine was issued to McGregor and a $500,000 fine to Nurmagomedov.

The discrepancy in fines and suspension lengths between Nurmagomedov and McGregor did not go unnoticed by the Nurmagomedov camp. Nurmagomedov's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, called out the disparity in punishment between his fighter and McGregor, as well as the harsh punishments of teammates involved.

"He's done with Vegas for giving his brothers such harsh punishment," he said. "He loves [Madison Square Garden]. Lots of his fans live around there, and New York has always been good to him. He misses fighting in New York."

In any case, a fight with Ferguson at lightweight would put Nurmagomedov in contention for the lightweight championship, which could then be potentially defended in a McGregor rematch. Also in his conversation with ESPN, White floated the possibility of a fight between McGregor and Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. A victory for both McGregor and Nurmagomedov in their so-far completely hypothetical fights could then tee up a blockbuster rematch featuring a Nurmagomedov title defense in which McGregor has the opportunity to reclaim his status as lightweight champion.