Tony Ferguson rips Conor McGregor fighting Nate Diaz rather than interim champion

Tony Ferguson will not be happy if McGregor vs. Diaz 3 actually happens

The UFC will crown an interim lightweight champion next weekend as Tony Ferguson meets Kevin Lee in the main event at UFC 216 in Las Vegas.

The interim belt is going up for grabs because current champion Conor McGregor isn’t expected to return until 2018 after a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August.

From the look of things, however, even when McGregor returns to the UFC it’s not likely he’ll facing Ferguson or Lee because all signs are pointing towards a trilogy fight against Nate Diaz instead.

McGregor and Diaz have split two prior meetings with both fights ending up as a pair of the most lucrative events in UFC history. Money aside, Ferguson says that McGregor needs to come back to unify the belts or the significance of the title really means nothing anyway.

“The next fight for Conor should be whoever wins this interim title,” Ferguson said during a media conference call on Thursday. “Regardless, win or lose, whether it’s myself or it’s Kevin Lee, that [expletive] needs to defend or vacate and he needs to unify that belt. Anything else with him as far as trying to fight Nate, that’s the bull [expletive] rankings and everything else that the UFC stands for goes out the window.”

As much as there may be a rivalry between McGregor and Diaz, Ferguson just doesn’t understand how that makes any sense for the rest of the division, especially considering two fighters are about to compete for an interim title.

On top of that, Ferguson definitely doesn’t consider Diaz a worthy contender with his 3-4 record over his past seven fights but due to his victory against McGregor, he might jump the line for a matchup against the reigning lightweight champion.

“You have rankings for a reason. You have an interim belt for a reason. That’s so you can unify the thing,” Ferguson said. “[Nate Diaz] is what a top 10? Not even a top five [fighter]? Kevin Lee’s got more heart than Nate and I’ve got more heart than this whole entire division.

“So if they want to put that fight together, I mean that’s great, but the fans are going to be pissed because obviously they know that [expletive] Diaz and Conor is going to make a lot of money but the real righteous thing to do is to make sure that the belts become unified. That’s what really needs to happen.”

More than anything, Ferguson believes the UFC will do anything to protect McGregor as the cash cow who brings in the most revenue for the company, which is why he won’t get matched up against a bigger threat like the winner of the interim title fight in October.

“Money talks, bull [expletive] walks,” Ferguson said. “Obviously, they’re going to protect their pocket and they’re going to keep McNuggets away from a real contender.”

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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.