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Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov headlines UFC 223 in Brooklyn

Tony Ferguson at UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena

Tony Ferguson at UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena on July 9, 2017 in Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Rey Del Rio

UFC president Dana White was asked a simple question.

“Is Ferguson-Nurmagomedov gonna happen?” said a co-host of the Toucher and Rich show on 98.5 FM The Sports Hub in Boston on Wednesday.

His response likely will excite the fan base.

“Yes. That fight’s gonna happen . . . Look at you, you know your stuff,” UFC president Dana White said.

“Brooklyn?”

“Yes. Look at you. This is refreshing.”

That means Tony Ferguson, the interim lightweight champion, will defend his title against Khabib Nurmagomedov at the Barclays Center.

The UFC made it official Thursday in a news release as UFC 223 will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 7.

According to the news release, Ferguson remains the interim champion. It is not unprecedented in the UFC for an interim champion to defend his title.

Conor McGregor remains for now the official UFC lightweight champion, a belt he won in November 2015 and has yet to defend. White has said before that the UFC could strip McGregor of the title, as they did to his featherweight championship, but no announcement has been made yet.

“If he wants to ride off into the sunset with his money for the rest of his life, I don’t blame him,” White said Wednesday. “And if he wants to come back and fight, we’ll get him back in. He just can’t hold the division hostage.”

Ferguson (25-3) has won 10 fights in a row. He last beat Kevin Lee at UFC 216 in October to win the interim title.

Nurmagomedov (25-0) dominated Edson Barboza at UFC 219 last month for his ninth win in the UFC.

Ferguson, from California, and Nurmagomedov, from Russia, have been scheduled to fight three separate times before. First, an injury to Nurmagomedov scrapped the bout. Second, a Ferguson injury. And third, it was a devastating weight cut that landed Nurmagomedov in hospital less than 48 hours bout their bout at UFC 209 last March.

New York Sports