Tony Ferguson could become the first established lightweight to fight since champion Khabib Nurmagomedov stepped down last month, and claims he will return before the end of 2020 against UFC newcomer Michael Chandler.

“El Cucuy” had a start-stop year when its fight with Russian defending champion Nurmagomedov was canceled for the fifth time in April because the pandemic disrupted the organization of the fight and prevented the Dagestani from traveling.

The 36-year-old handed the provisional lightweight crown in a surprisingly heavy loss to Justin Gaethje the following month and lost a bloody match in the fifth round before further voicing his hopes for a meeting with Nurmagomedov.

Ferguson and Chandler, who left Bellator MMA to join UFC as the first understudy for Nurmagomedov’s title defense, are both pursuing the title.

This is the kind of news I’m looking for. The final 2020 card Ferguson vs Chandler would be great

– MMA techie (@NayakSriharsha) November 14, 2020

Ferguson is aiming for a return to form after his nearly seven-year win in twelve fights was halted by his loss to Gaethje.

“Michael Chandler, you Putz,” he announced to his following of more than 2.3 million followers on Instagram and compared himself to the Dark Knight next to an illustration showing spotlights illuminating his nickname in a black sky. “You asked for it.”

Three-time Bellator light heavyweight champion Chandler impressed with his demeanor and stamina before Nurmagomedov’s long-awaited return to Abu Dhabi’s “battle island”, likely lack of action.

When rumors spread that Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor were hesitating about a deal to fight at UFC 257 earlier this week, Chandler tried to work his way into the payroll by accusing them of “keeping contracts” and promising they were “ready” to be signed “.

After this fight was reportedly settled on the same day, Chandler asked Ferguson, “Where are you?”

You can’t just jump ahead of the line. You haven’t smelled any competition in @ufc yet !! That’s crazy!!

– EJG.QUINN # D4L (@ EJGquinn_D4L) November 10, 2020

Ferguson said to his challenger, “Let’s close 2020 in style. Added to list, b * tch.”

Fans reacted with excitement at the prospect of a major scrap before the end of the year, though the organization of the potential bout is uncertain after a year in which UFC President Dana White has admitted pitching bouts was often a logistical nightmare.

Others have questioned Chandler’s right to compete with competitors if he has not yet shown his eligibility for promotion.

“You can’t just jump in front of the line,” said one. “You haven’t smelled any competition in the UFC. That’s crazy.”

One Chandler supporter argued that his striking final Bellator performance, when he defeated Benson Henderson in the first round, got him his shot.

“Look at Chandler versus Henderson,” they said, addressing their response to “the casual gamers”. “You will see why this man is a phenomenon.”

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