— Nolan King (@mma_kings) January 17, 2018
So I didn’t hear this directly, but it is all over the “Toucher and Rich” twitter that this morning Dana White himself confirmed on the show – one of Boston’s top morning sports-talk programs, for those not in the know – that The Eagle vs. Tony Ferguson will go down in Brooklyn at UFC 223. This also almost guarantees Conor McGregor will be “stripped” of his 155lb belt, as Dana White has previously alluded, and that this fight will be for the undisputed championship, not Ferguson’s as-previously billed-as Interim Title.
This is, I believe, something like the 4th time this fight has been booked in some capacity, the last being the infamous UFC 209 fiasco where Nurmagomedov couldn’t even show up for weigh-ins. With Tyler Minton now firmly entrenched as his trusted nutritionist, I’m actually pretty optimistic weight issues are in the past for the Dagestani. the venue is also of note, as the UFC is very well aware of Brooklyn’s large Russian population, something they’ve exploited in the past by having Nurmagomedov hold interviews there, etc.
It goes without saying that this fight is huge for the division, the UFC, and most directly, the two fighters involved. Whoever wins this fight is almost assuredly also the next winner of the McGregor sweepstakes, as White has also mentioned that The Notorious would like to come back to the Octagon in the fall. His opponent, one would assume, would be the winner of this fight, giving McGregor an opportunity to win back the belt he was “stripped of” due to his elongated vacation from the cage. Whoever faces McGregor is now always expected to receive an inflated payday and permanent boost in stature, and it can be expected that the man who will emerge from this long-awaited clash of 155ers with a belt around his waist will see an even bigger bump than normal.
As for the UFC and the division, this fight will be a huge part of unweaving quite the web spun by McGregor’s absence, injuries to both competitors, and Nurmagomedov’s fight with the scale. As long as all goes to plan over the next 9-11 months, we will know, in no uncertain terms, who the top 3 Lightweights are, in order. This is not unimportant, as the Lightweight division has been historically one of the UFCs most storied, having been the home of legends like B.J Penn and Frankie Edgar. Their heir awaits them.