Ferguson: I’m still the true 155-pound champion
Tony Ferguson won ten UFC fights in a row, capped by submitting Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight title, as then-division champion Conor McGregor was otherwise engaged. At UFC 223 Ferguson was supposed to fight undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov for the full title, as McGregor would be stripped that day. In the end, McGregor stripped himself, and Ferguson suffered a freak leg injury, leaving Nurmagomedov to beat an admirably game Al Iaquinta for the full title.
Ferguson underwent surgery last month and intends to return the Octagon by the end of the year. During a recent interview with ESPN Staff Writer Brett Okamoto, he was not impressed with his treatment by the league.
“The doctor told me recovery time is anywhere from three to six months with this kind of procedure, but I heal quick,” said Ferguson. “Whenever Khabib’s b**** ass comes back, that’s when I’ll be back. I’m thinking November.
“The UFC has indicated my title is gone and Khabib is the only champion at 155 pounds, but the UFC hasn’t mentioned anything official to my management. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still the true 155-pound champion. I never lost my belt.”
Nurmagomedov says he wants to fight in November, but the biggest PPV bout would be vs. Conor McGregor, who infamously attacked him with a hand truck.
“That’s a big middle finger to ‘T-Ferg’ right there — that’s a kick to the groin if they do that,” said Ferguson. “At the end of the day, does the UFC really like its fighters? I’m one of their toughest fighters. Don’t kick me when I’m down.
“I missed out on pay-per-view points, my purse, a big payday; a lot of things behind the scenes. They have to either give me my title back or make sure I’m fighting under that same contract. I’ve earned that.”
“I thought Al Iaquinta did a great job at UFC 223, but Khabib is going to say he won the Super Bowl after he faced the third string? No way, dude. So many people hold him up on a high horse, but I see his flaws. I wasn’t impressed with anything he did.
“I think the UFC is going to do what they want to do, like any other time. But it’s disrespectful to me to strip my title. I should still be the interim champion. In fact, I should be the champion and Khabib should be the interim champion.”
Ferguson’s manager, Audie Attar, who also manages McGregor, argues that there was no precedent for stripping his client, and that he should get the same terms including PPV points for his next fight.