Undefeated lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov has been on the cusp of a title shot since his 2014 win over Rafael dos Anjos, a victory that marked his sixth straight in the promotion.
Unfortunately, injuries have kept Nurmagomedov on the sidelines for the larger part of the last two years. Since the win over RDA, he's only fought once, a second-round TKO over last-second replacement Darrell Horcher, where he called for a title shot immediately after getting his hand raised.
But dos Anjos says that's not going to cut it.
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"I think to get a title shot you need to have some expressive wins," dos Anjos said during a media day in Los Angeles, per MMAJunkie's Dan Shapiro. "If you're out for two years and you beat one guy with a full-time job, without disrespect, but we're talking about fighting for a world title. You can't just beat a guy that went there to cover some guy that got injured and then this guy, after two and a half years, gets a title shot. I think Ferguson's the guy -- he's fighting Michael Chiesa now -- probably will be, in my opinion, the next contender."
Ferguson was originally scheduled to fight Nurmagomedov at a UFC Fight Night in Tampa but had to pull out due to injury. Before then, however, Ferguson had won seven straight, with only two coming by decision, and has been awarded three consecutive Performance of the Night bonuses.
In that same span, Nurmagomedov has fought just twice, and despite the fact that he has a win over RDA, the reigning, defending champ says "The Eagle" will need to put in the work to make up for his time away if he wants to fight for UFC gold.
"His last fight was against a guy with a full-time job," dos Anjos said. "I beat Diaz, Pettis, Ben Henderson, Cerrone and I earned it, man. I earned my title."