Despite claiming that he would leave the UFC if he was not awarded a title shot for his domination of Michael Johnson at UFC 205, it appears that Khabib Nurmagomedov has accepted the fact that he won't get his wish just yet.
After Conor McGregor confirmed that he would be taking a break while his girlfriend Dee Devlin gives birth to the couple's first child, Khabib has a new plan in place and although he doesn't seem best pleased, he has come to terms with the fact that this is how it's going to be.
Speaking to Russian media in an interview that was translated by reddit user a1sincedayone, Khabib explains that discussions with Tony Ferguson are 90% complete, and those two fighters will compete for the interim lightweight title with a view to fighting Conor McGregor next.
Q: If you are offered to fight Ferguson for the interim title, will you agree?
A: 100%. There are already negotiations, 90 % sure it will happen. Why? Because Conor is pregnant, he has to give birth, and then recover until summer. I can't wait until summer, I have missed out on 2 years of my career, I don't want to miss out long periods of time again.
Q: What if they let Ferguson fight Conor, but not you?
A: Most likely not gonna happen. No doubt, Ferguson is deserving as well, he has a 9 fight win streak against serious opponents, but as far as marketing and PR, I don't think I'm lower than him'.
Q: Rumours are the UFC don't want Conor to fight you because of the high chances of you beating him?
A: Right now, they could lose money on me fighting him. But if I fight Ferguson for the interim belt and win, and then fight Conor for the title unification in Fight Week in July, and do a press tour in the US, Europe, Russia and Asia, everyone could make money'.
We still don't know if Conor McGregor's first fight back after his break will be in defence of his featherweight title, or his lightweight title, or if he's going to go after whoever holds the welterweight belt at the time.
But it very much looks like Khabib vs Ferguson is going to happen, at the third time of asking, and it promises to be a spectacular fight.
Do both men deserve a title shot? Yes. But the game has changed, and while Conor is still pulling in the numbers that he does, what he says goes for the time being.
The interview with Sovsport.ru is on YouTube and once again thanks to reddit user a1sincedayone for the translation.