Khabib Nurmagomedov may want to profess that he is the number one contender to the Lightweight title, but it sure is hard to prove without actually fighting in the Octagon for over 18 months. The last time the Russian graced the cage was April of last year and he took out the current UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos. That put him on a six fight winning streak which looking back now is not that impressive. Still Tony Ferguson is a legit contender who deserves a step up in competition which Nurmagomedov provided being at number three in the division.
Ferguson sits at number 10 in the division while being 9-1 in the UFC’s Lightweight division. Ferguson won a season of TUF and his two post season fights before losing to fellow TUF veteran Michael Johnson. From there he has been unstoppable winning six fights with four finishes. His biggest win was in his last fight when he took out former Strikeforce champion Josh Thompson by unanimous decision. The Nurmagomedov fight was his chance to break out and with only five weeks until the fight, he is lucky enough anyone took the fight, let alone a ranked fighter.
Edson Barboza, the 14th ranked fighter, has stepped up to fight for his third fight of the year. The Brazilian born fighter has always been on the cusp of a title contender but losses have forced him to drop down in the rankings. He originally blasted through his first four fights, with three TKOs, only to get stopped by a late replacement in veteran fighter Jaime Varner. He won his next three fights before getting stopped by current number one contender Donald Cerrone. Since then, he is only 3-1 with only one stoppage, but he has taken out the likes of Evan Dunham, Bobby Green and young up and comer Paul Felder. Now, taking this fight on short notice he will have a chance to jump up the rankings with a win over Barboza. For Ferguson, it will just prove how good he is if he can beat Barboza convincingly.