On the company’s official Twitter account on Thursday, UFC announced that Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0) will face Tony Ferguson (22-3) at UFC 209 for the interim lightweight championship. The event will take place on March 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV and air live on pay per view. Headlining that card will be a welterweight title fight between Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs. Stephen Thompson (13-3-1).
UFC has tried to set this lightweight bout up before, with the previous bouts being canceled due to injury. The two were supposed to square off in December of 2015, but Khabib suffered an injury that required him to withdraw. They rescheduled for April of 2016, but Ferguson was forced to pull out due to injuries as well. Khabib comes into this fight having handed Michael Johnson a one-sided submission defeat at UFC 205 in November, while Ferguson comes in riding a nine-fight win streak that includes a decision victory over former champion Rafael dos Anjos.
The company is looking to crown an interim champion while the official champion, Conor McGregor, awaits the arrival of his first child. McGregor will be out for an undetermined length of time, which made the bout between Khabib and Ferguson the obvious choice. The winner of this fight will have a strong case to face McGregor on his return to UFC.