So far, 2017 has unfolded without an Octagon appearance from Nurmagomedov.
Earlier this month, in the main event of UFC 216, Tony Ferguson defeated Kevin Lee with a third-round choke to capture the UFC interim lightweight title.
Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC), now recovered from shoulder surgery, told MMAjunkie earlier this month that a fight with Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) makes sense, all things considered. "I saw an interview with him yesterday, and he said he'll fight me if Conor fights Ferguson, and (UFC President) Dana (White) already said that fight will happen, so I believe my next fight will be against Khabib". [Lee] talked too much.
"They offered me this fight, and I accepted it", Barboza said, via MMAFighting.com. When the fight was beginning, first round, [Lee] beat [Ferguson], and second round, [Lee] stayed with him in his distance, he ate a lot of jabs, and third round, he gave up, because he doesn't have conditioning. "But what happens if Ferguson fights a fighter like me, who all the time tries to take him down, smash him on the ground, and never, never stop? That's why these guys [lost to] him", Nurmagomedov said. "He's the No. 2 and I'm the No. 3, and that's the fight that makes sense for us". Never, ever. In training, amateur fights, and professional fights, I never get exhausted. "I'm ready. If the UFC books this fight, I'm ready". Never, ever, in all my life. You can ask 'DC, ' you can ask Luke Rockhold, all fighters: I never give up and I never get exhausted. "This is what I want to say about this".
But in spite of those problems, he believes he's in a similar spot as to where he was at around this time past year, where he beat Michael Johnson handily at UFC 205 and was headed for a bout with Ferguson to find out who would fight Conor McGregor for the title.