BOSTON — A UFC news conference on Friday was supposed to bring some clarity to its lightweight division. Ultimately, it did not.
Speaking to reporters inside TD Garden, UFC president Dana White said a lightweight matchup between interim champion Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, scheduled for UFC 223 on April 7 in Brooklyn, New York, would be for the “undisputed” title.
At the same time, White declined to provide an update on current lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who has held the official 155-pound title since November 2016 without a single defense.
At no point did White address the possibility of the UFC stripping McGregor of his title, which he has previously said would be a consideration.
“I have no update [on McGregor],” White said. “The winner of this fight will be the champion.
“Right now, Conor is saying, ‘Maybe I’ll come back in August, maybe September.’ That’s almost two years. It’s not fair to the rest of the guys in the division. These guys have been going on, fighting in their careers. Everybody wants to get to that pinnacle.”
It’s a unique situation: the UFC announcing an undisputed championship fight while the undisputed champion continues to sit out.
When pressed for further clarification of its plans, White responded, “You will see what happens, relax.”
Regardless of circumstances, Ferguson (23-3) and Nurmagomedov (25-0) combine for an extraordinary lightweight matchup. Ferguson is on a 10-fight win streak, the longest in UFC history. Nurmagomedov is a perfect 9-0 inside the Octagon.
“They offered me Conor, but Conor didn’t want to fight,” said Ferguson, who is still officially the interim champion. “I want to fight people that actually want to fight. I’m not going to beg someone to fight.
“This is the real belt. I’ve fought 10 times. You guys all watched them. If not, you’re a casual. Go watch my fights and you’ll see exactly why I have this belt. I am the champ. Conor McNuggets is nothing. I’m defending my belt.”
Nurmagomedov, who has drawn the attention of McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, recently, laughed at Ferguson during the news conference.
“What is it? Dana, please tell these guys,” Nurmagomedov said. “Nobody is talking about Tony time. All we’re talking about is Khabib time.”