The UFC’s #3 ranked lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov withdrew from his high-profile fight against Tony Ferguson on December 11th after sustaining a rib injury in training. The Sambo master made the announcement via social media late Thursday night.

“I want to apologize to my fans. I broke my rib and again I am out of the fight. I really wanted to come back. I’m not sure if I will ever come back”, wrote Nurmagomedov on his Twitter account.

Nurmagomedov was scheduled to fight The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner Tony Ferguson in a crucial lightweight bout at the finale of the current Ultimate Fighter show, TUF 22, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The finale will be headlined by a bout between featherweights Chad Mendes and Frankie Edgar.

Another Setback

It was another setback for Nurmagomedov, who hasn’t fought since defeating current UFC Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos in April of 2014. Nurmagomedov was linked to a title eliminator bout against fellow top rated lightweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone earlier this year but he pulled out of that bout with a knee injury.

The unbeaten Nurmagomedov was on the cusp of a title shot after shooting up to the #1 in the UFC Lightweight rankings. He is 6-0 in the UFC and 22-0 overall. The 27-year old Nurmagomedov is a two-time Combat Sambo World Champion. Aside from Dos Anjos, he holds victories over Pat Healy, Abel Trujillo and Thiago Tavares.

A Mean Streak

Tapped to replace Nurmagomedov on December 11th is Edson Barboza. The Brazilian striker is coming off a big win over Paul Felder at UFC on Fox 16 last July. Overall, Barboza has won three of four and has a 16-3 record. But Tony Ferguson is even on a meaner streak, winning his last six bouts including four by stoppage and three post-fight bonuses. Ferguson recorded a unanimous decision win over Josh Thompson in his most recent bout last July. The former TUF winner is 19-3 overall and is looking for a win that will push him to title contention.

A win over Nurmagomedov would have helped that but a win over Barboza would give him a longer winning streak.  Ferguson was a +250 underdog against Nurmagomedov but is expected to be favored over Barboza. Ferguson and Barboza are almost even in striking, but Ferguson’s grappling and submission skills are seen as his advantages over Barboza in this contest.

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