Khabib Nurmagomedov is at long last returning to the UFC octagon, in a fight with title implications.
The UFC on Friday officially confirmed a booking reported over a week ago for December’s UFC 219. After Edson Barboza himself lets the news slip previously, the UFC confirmed via Twitter that undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov will meet him in Las Vegas. The Brazilian had earlier said he’d signed a bout agreement to face “The Eagle.”
— UFC Brasil (@ufc_brasil) October 27, 2017
Should he successfully make it to the cage, it will be the first appearance in the octagon since UFC 205 in November of last year for Khabib Nurmagomedov. A March 2016 interim lightweight title bout featuring the fighter at UFC 209 was scrapped last minute when Nurmagomedov was rushed to hospital during his weight cut. That put talk of an eventual showdown with lightweight champ Conor McGregor on the back burner.
Since then, Tony Ferguson managed to capture the interim lightweight title against Kevin Lee at UFC 216 earlier this month. McGregor, meanwhile, took part in one of the biggest boxing matches in history against Floyd Mayweather in August.
Flying somewhat under the radar through all of this has been Brazil’s Edson Barboza. A fearsome striker known for vicious kicks, Barboza (19–4) will enter UFC 219 on a three fight winning streak dating back to April 2016. In that span he has picked up wins over former UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis, and former Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez.
That’s the sort of resume that, when put up against the undefeated Nurmagomedov (24–0), gives this fight title implications. It very much makes sense as a number one contender’s bout, especially if Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson get down to business in the near future.
UFC 219 takes place December 30 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. No main event for the card has been unveiled as of yet.