Okamoto also reported that while Nurmagomedov and Ferguson haven't formally signed a contract, they "have expressed interest in the title fight pending further negotiations."
Few matchups are more long-awaited than Khabib vs. Ferguson.
Nurmagomedov is 28-0, most recently submitting Dustin Poirier in the third round at UFC 242 in September. Ferguson is the No. 1 lightweight challenger in UFC's official rankings and improved his record to 25-3 after earning a second-round TKO victory over Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 in June.
Okamoto noted UFC has paired these two up on five previous occasions. Intervening circumstances have forced the company to change plans every time.
Ferguson is the most logical opponent for Nurmagomedov, who already has a victory over Conor McGregor, and Khabib indicated earlier this month during a Q&A for RT Sport earlier this month contract negotiations were in the works.
"It will happen, there are talks currently ongoing, it will be either in March or April," he said, per MMA Mania's Jesse Holland. "The backstory of this fight is what makes it so anticipated. We’re currently putting everything in action. He has 12 straight wins in UFC, I have 12 straight wins, so I think it will be a very good fight. I’m preparing for it, mentally and physically."
Some fans will likely remain guarded until Nurmagomedov and Ferguson actually set foot inside the Octagon. As Khabib alluded to, however, all of the behind-the-scenes drama should raise the stakes for this lightweight encounter.