Though he’s still not back in the thick of a title shot, Khabib Nurmagomedov is finally slated to get his first UFC bout of 2017. And it will come just under the wire, granted he makes it to the Octagon on fight night.
Nurmagomedov is officially booked to fight Edson Barboza at UFC 219 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas, after failing to make it to the Octagon for an interim title fight earlier this year.
“I have a big announcement for you guys: I will fight on Dec. 30, Las Vegas, against Khabib Nurmagomedov,” Barboza said at a fan question and answer session prior to Friday’s weigh-in for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night in Sao Paulo.
“I know it’s going to be a big war. You guys know I love war, so definitely be ready for this, guys.”
UFC officials also confirmed the bout to MMAWeekly.com on Friday.
Nurmagomedov (24-0) hasn’t fought since November of 2016, when he submitted Michael Johnson. He was supposed to have met Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 in March to determine an interim lightweight champion during Conor McGregor‘s absence, but was unable to fight after falling ill because of a bad weight cut.
TRENDING > Michael Bisping Shoots Down Lawsuit Against Him as ‘Total Bullocks’
He returns to the queue, trying to work his way into a title challenge, by facing Barboza (19-4), who is on a three-fight winning streak, including coming off of a flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in March.
Barboza currently sits at No. 3 in the UFC lightweight division, while Nurmagomedov still maintains the No. 2 spot. The winner is likely to be next in line for a shot at the belt, if Ferguson, the interim champion, and lightweight titleholder McGregor square off, as expected.