Tony Ferguson details ‘unpleasant’ Khabib Nurmagomedov booking, vows to make rival ‘piss blood’

Tony Ferguson says the UFC’s desire to promptly finalize his showdown with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov made the process of booking his first undisputed title fight a bit uncomfortable.

“The manner that they did it really wasn’t the way I wanted to go, so it made the week kind of unpleasant,” Ferguson said Monday on “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.” “It puts my fans through the freakin’ ringer, but they kept it lighthearted for me. It was about as smooth as a bumpy road, but we got to our destination, which was cool.”

Ferguson (25-3 MMA, 15-1 UFC), who will indeed challenge Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) for the 155-pound title at UFC 249 on April 18 in Brooklyn, N.Y., said it all started when his management at Ballengee Group called to inform him a bout agreement was on the way. He had no prior indication the UFC already wanted to sign the fight and figured there was more to discuss before putting pen to paper.

That’s when Nurmagomedov’s team released the champion’s signed bout agreement on social media, shortly following UFC president Dana White telling ESPN the fight was targeted for April.

Ferguson’s side wasn’t done, though, and he wanted a face-to-face with UFC brass to hash everything out, and he got his wish with a visit to UFC headquarters in Las Vegas this past Friday. It was there that he signed his bout agreement.

“The process wasn’t the way I envisioned it going,” Ferguson said. “That’s why I wanted to sit down with the UFC. It’s about time we actually started having conversations and me being a little more personable with the company. It went good. I can’t say that it went bad. It just took time and was a process. I’m just lucky I had my agents there who have my back, so it’s cool to have that.”

Ferguson said he’s “happy with the way things are going” as far as his UFC relationship, and now he can turn his attention to what will be the most anticipated fight of 2020 by the time it arrives.

After failed bookings between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, all involved hope the fifth time will be the charm. The fight is still more than four months away, though, and like many others, Ferguson wonders why.

“You’re going to have to ask the UFC (why the fight is in April),” Ferguson said. “Khabib is still on his world tour. He’s doing things, kissing babies and doing all that fun stuff. Who cares? You know who I am. You know I’m ready for February. I was ready to take another opponent if they were going to (expletive) pull some crazy stuff. But everything worked out. We’ve got until April. We’ve got plenty of time to train. We’ve got plenty of time to not get hurt, to be very smart and trust our teams and give the fans exactly what they (expletive) want.”

No one has been able to solve the puzzle that is the undefeated Nurmagomedov. However, Ferguson holds the same 12-fight UFC winning streak as “The Eagle” and against arguably a higher caliber of competition.

Ferguson has been waiting years to prove he’s superior to Nurmagomedov, whom he called “very beatable,” and take hold of the UFC lightweight belt. Now that his opportunity is signed and official, he said he has no intention of letting it slip away.

“I’m in this dude’s head,” Ferguson said. “He’s looking at me. He’s going to train so hard. He’s going to be so nervous he’s going to make a mistake. I’m going to capitalize on that. I’m going to catch him during the scrambles. Scrambled eggs, baby. I’m going to make him piss blood. I owe him two to the chops, and he owes me 20 push-ups. This guy’s got an issue, and his name is Tony Ferguson. And I’m coming after him. It’s hunting season, baby.”

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