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Tony Ferguson hopes to return to the Octagon by the end of the year

Former UFC lightweight interim champion Tony Ferguson is aiming to get back into the Octagon by the end of this year and is hoping to face off against current champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Ferguson (23-3) suffered a freak knee injury during a media appearance in Los Angeles to promote UFC 223 less than a week before the event.

Ferguson told ESPN earlier this week that his recovery was ahead of schedule.

That would be the fourth time a bout between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov would be canceled after various circumstances to both fighters.

UFC 223 in Brooklyn was supposed to declare an undisputed champion in the lightweight division after the UFC decided to strip Conor McGregor of his title for inactivity.

Ferguson claimed the interim title with a submission win over Kevin Lee at UFC 216.

Nurmagomedov went on to defeat late replacement Al Iaquinta via unanimous decision to claim the undisputed championship at UFC 223.

MMA fans have been craving a fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson for years because of the vast arsenal that both fighters possess, but it just hasn't been able to come to fruition.

McGregor and Nurmagomedov appear on a collision course to an eventual title fight, possibly at the end of this year, but McGregor has to settle his legal situation before anything can be scheduled.

McGregor stormed the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn during a media event for UFC 223, eventually starting a near riot in the loading dock when he attempted to confront Nurmagomedov, who was a passenger in one of the buses that were escorting fighters back to their hotel.

McGregor faces up to five criminal counts for the ruckus but isn't expected to face any actual jail time.

This left Ferguson somewhat out to dry.  He went from being the interim champion back to just being another top contender.  Not to mention the financial loss of UFC 223 and possible future paydays related to him fighting as an official champion.

UFC President Dana White has stated that he would never again book a fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson after seeing it fall through for the fourth time.

But will he have a choice?

Ferguson is on a 10-fight winning streak that includes wins over Edson Barboza and Rafael dos Anjos.

McGregor still faces a possible suspension from the UFC regarding the melee in Brooklyn, not to mention future lawsuits, so his status is not exactly clear.

 

Other top contenders such as Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier are tied up in fights against each other while others such as Barboza and Justin Gaethje have recently competed, so their availability is unknown.

 

Ferguson is demanding an immediate title shot upon his return and it's hard to deny him that opportunity after circumstances beyond his control.

 

 

 

Alex Solano