Tony Ferguson: Khabib Nurmagomedov is ‘never going to fight me’

Tony Ferguson still wants a piece of Khabib Nurmagomedov but doesn’t think the UFC lightweight champion feels the same way.

Ferguson (25-4 MMA, 15-2 UFC) and Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) had their matchups fall through on five different occasions over the course of five years. After Nurmagomedov was forced out of their most recent booking in May at UFC 249 due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Justin Gaethje stepped in and stopped Ferguson in Round 5 to win the interim lightweight title. Now Gaethje will attempt to unify the belt with Nurmagomedov on Saturday, leaving Ferguson out of the title contention equation.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Nurmagomedov said he thinks Ferguson will never be the same due to the amount of damage he took in his loss to Gaethje, alluding to the fact that he doesn’t think they’ll ever fight.

But Ferguson insists that fate will lead to an eventual matchup.

“Khabib’s never going to fight me,” Ferguson told MMA Junkie. “He’s never going to fight me. Three times in a row he didn’t want to fight me. They have a fight this weekend, and they’re both managed by the same (expletive) people. … Some things you just can’t force. I’m going to be real. Things are just meant to happen.

“I’m destined to kick Khabib’s ass one way or another. I’ll make his ass do his push-ups either way. He’ll see me before the year is done. I don’t know how. I’ll make sure I Zoom his ass and say, ‘Hey, you son of a (expletive), I’m going to kick your ass.’ I’ll think of something.”

Ferguson was initially offered Dustin Poirier in the co-main event of UFC 254, but after Poirier couldn’t come to terms with the promotion, the fight fell through. Ferguson was then offered Michael Chandler, but Ferguson was unhappy with being offered a newcomer for what he saw as an unsatisfactory amount of money.

So “El Cucuy” has diverted his attention to matchups with either Nurmagomedov or Conor McGregor, who’s expected to rematch Poirier on Jan. 23.

“I have Khabib I could talk (expletive) too, and I have Conor,” Ferguson said. “These are two fights that interest me because they’re in my weight class, they’re very good talent-wise, and I think I could beat them both. Pretty much. It would be dope to fight in a tournament with me, Conor, you got Khabib, you got Gaethje. One of those old-school UFC 1 kind of things. That’s what I’m saying.”

“Personally, I would love to fight Khabib,” Ferguson added. “I think I’ve got him on the takedowns. I’m going to be real. Just the ankle picks. It’s a different kind of animal when we’re training like that. The last fight we were bringing in some sambo guys, man. It was no joke. It was cool. It was interesting.”

“Conor, I would love to outbox that guy. Just specifically for the challenge. That’s what we do in mixed martial arts. We’re in it for the challenge. If we’re good at something we want to learn something different and make it our own. That’s the beautiful part about this sport.”

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