Khabib Nurmagomedov is out of UFC 249. The UFC lightweight champion was set to put his belt on the line against Tony Ferguson on April 19, for what was the fifth attempt at getting the two in the octagon together.
The first time these fighters were set to clash was all the way back 2015, as both men looked to make a name for themselves in the lightweight division. A rib injury would prevent Khabib from competing, which forced the reschedule for April the following year, where it was Ferguson's turn to withdraw.
Then, after full 2016 of back and forths, it became clear the two were destined to fight as they both went on a relentlessly unrivalled streak within the lightweight division. 2017 comes, and a third scheduled bout is on the cards for the interim belt, as the current champion, Conor McGregor, was busy making history with Floyd Mayweather in boxing.
The ball was back in Khabib's court this time, as he withdrew due to being hospitalised because of a brutal weight cut. This forced Ferguson to fight Kevin Lee, who he submitted in the third round after a marvellous display. 'El Cucuy' would finally claim UFC gold as a result, although it was far from the magical manner in which we all envisioned.
We're now in 2018 and Dana White announces a fourth attempt to get this bizarre battle of the ages done. Now, with McGregor failing to fight for his lightweight title since 2016, this 2018 bout between Khabib and Ferguson was seen as the fight for not the interim belt, but the "real title".
The American had to withdraw once more, after freakishly blowing out his knee *on the way out* of doing his media work for the fight. To now have the fight off for the fourth time and in the circumstances of actually being injured whilst promoting the fight, led fans to label the matchup as a curse.
Khabib would have to fight Al Iaquinta, instead, where he won to claim lightweight gold and the Russian has held the belt ever since that April 2018 win.
Now, after amazingly getting things scheduled for an almighty fifth time, we once again have to sit back and wonder what would happen if arguably the two best ever lightweights meet.