Khabib Nurmagomedov: Tony Ferguson Needs to Win a Fight Before Deserving Title Shot

Khabib Nurmagomedov is still interested in fighting Tony Ferguson but only after he goes out and gets a win to get back into title contention.

What goes around, comes around.

That’s the message from new UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov when asked about his interest in facing former interim title holder Tony Ferguson after their fight fell apart for the fourth time in just over two years.

With Ferguson out, Nurmagomedov ended up earning a lopsided decision victory over late replacement Al Iaquinta to become undisputed champion.

While UFC president Dana White has sounded hesitant about booking the fight again given all the problems the promotion has had putting it together over four times in the past, it’s still tough to ignore Ferguson’s win streak and status in the lightweight division.

Still, Nurmagomedov believes now that it was Ferguson’s fault their latest fight was cancelled that he should have to prove himself by getting a win before the UFC puts them back together in an attempt to make that fight finally become a reality.

“I keep wanting this fight to be honest, but you guys remember when I pull out the last time at UFC 209, you guys remember this, and UFC tell me ‘you want to deserve title shot, you have to fight, you have to fight with some tough guy’. OK, I make mistake. Because when you have injury this is your fault. This is your fault, nobody [else’s] fault. I have a lot of injuries, ACL, MCL, back surgery, hand surgery, broke ribs. A long time I come back, come back, come back, I never gave up. Now he has injury. This is not my fault. This is not Dana [White’s] fault. It’s his fault,” Nurmagomedov said at the UFC 223 post fight press conference. 

“Now you have injury, please come back and fight with somebody and deserve this and that’s it. Tony Ferguson is tough guy. He has a 10 [fight] win streak. I don’t want to trash talk him or bad, I know he always talk trash. Even he just pull out and he keep talking somebody on Twitter. Hey, shut up. You pulled out. He keeps talking like crazy. Because I told you guys, he is great fighter but he is a little bit stupid. I don’t understan this guy. He want to fight? Come back and deserve this. That’s it.”

Now truth be told, Nurmagomedov was forced out of his fight with Ferguson back at UFC 209 due to a brutal weight cut that put him in the hospital. After that disastrous incident, the UFC forced Nurmagomedov to prove he could make weight for a fight against Edson Barboza this past December.

Nurmagomedov made the cut and then dismantled Barboza over three rounds to once again set up the fight with Ferguson.

Despite the differences in how the fight was cancelled, Nurmagomedov says the result should still be the same with Ferguson facing at least one more opponent before earning a shot at the new UFC lightweight champion.

Watch full Khabib Nurmagomedov press conference

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.
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