Tony Ferguson: I’ll fight Khabib Nurmagomev before he retires

Former UFC interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson won nine performance bonuses in his last nine fights, including six Fight of the Nights. In his last fight, he was defeated by Justin Gaethje, who fights division champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 254 on Saturday. The loss also meant “El Cucuy” was denied a fight vs. “The Eagle.”

2015: Nurmagomedov withdrew with a rib injury.
2016: Ferguson withdrew with a lung issue. 
2017: Nurmagomedov hospitalized while cutting weight.
2018: Ferguson tripped over cables while fulfilling media duties and tore ligaments in his knee. 
2019: Miracle year – no Khabib vs. Tony fight canceled.
2020: Not a miracle year – fight canceled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

During a recent interview with ESPN‘s Brett Okamoto, Tony Ferguson kept hope alive, in his response to Nurmagomedov’s recent statement that Ferguson, 36, will never be the same after the brutal Gaethje fight.

“I see fear in his voice if he thinks he has to talk bad about people,” Ferguson told ESPN. “He can’t put that s*** in my head. I will fight Khabib at one point or another. He will see me before he retires. We’ll make that a point.

“I think everybody is writing me off after one loss, and f*** them. The casual fan base is trying to, but my hardcore fans are too much. They know too much. My value is way too much.”

Ferguson is in training, and said the UFC wants to match him with newly signed former three-time Bellator MMA champ Michael Chandler. However, TFerg believes Chandler’s contract is higher, so wants to renegotiate his own.

“Michael Chandler hasn’t earned his way to the top,” said Ferguson. “But if that’s who Dana White wants me to fight, you know me: I put my boots on, and I go to work. When it came to COVID, I made weight, and I went to work. There was a point, 72 hours, it was myself, Dana, [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby and my wife, just trying to make that s*** happen. If I hadn’t taken that fight [vs. Gaethje in the UFC return following the COVID shutdown], how many people would not have gotten paid?

“Do I want to fight? Yes. I want to fight in December. I’m f***ing training. Let’s go. But I don’t think somebody who doesn’t even belong here should be paid more than me. That’s what I’m saying.”

Ferguson said he is on good terms with UFC president Dana White, and vows to return in December, vs, Chandler or someone else, a better fighter for the loss.

“I learned a lot about myself in that fight,” said Ferguson. “I learned I’m not going to put myself in that position again, to take damage like that. I wanted to see how tough I was, and now I’ve found out. That scares people to do that, so I’ve learned how to work much better and more efficiently.”

UG, what odds do you place on the fight happening?

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