Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
The two lightweights had a rivalry that dominated over the 155-pound division for years prior to Nurmagomedov’s retirement in 2020. At one point, Nurmagomedov and Ferguson each owned dueling 12-fight UFC win streaks and were unquestionably the two top lightweights in the world, however their failure to meet in the cage will forever be one of MMA’s greatest “what ifs.” The pair were booked to settle the rivalry four times throughout their careers, but never once actually made it to fight night with the bout still intact.
There may still be a chance, though.
Last month, Ferguson proposed in an interview with MMA Fighting to have the two serve as coaches on a season of The Ultimate Fighter. Nurmagomedov quickly voiced his support for the idea — and now UFC president Dana White appears to have gotten behind it as well.
“So you’re telling me, you guys as fans, media, whatever it might be, like the idea of two guys possibly coaching that wouldn’t fight each other?” White responded Tuesday when asked about Ferguson’s proposal on The Spinnin Backfist MMA Show.
“I’ll consider it. Congratulations. … I will absolutely entertain that idea.”
Nurmagomedov (29-0) has not competed since he closed out his run as UFC lightweight champion with a submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 that gave him a perfect 13-0 record in the promotion. These days, “The Eagle” is most visible as the owner and promoter of up-and-coming MMA organization Eagle FC.
Ferguson (25-7) has fallen on hard times since his 12-fight win streak ended at the hands of Gaethje in 2020. He’s lost four straight bouts, most recently suffering a brutal knockout loss to Michael Chandler at UFC 274, however “El Cucuy” remains a fan favorite within the sport. Ferguson also has a history with The Ultimate Fighter, having won the 13th season of the show back in 2011.
If White is being serious, Ferguson and Nurmagomedov may soon be able to add TUF coaches to their résumés as well.
“Hopefully they’ll get pissed off enough at each other that they actually want to fight and I can make them fight,” White joked.
“I’m in. You sold me.”