We all know how UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as well as his late father Abdulmanap once considered former UFC interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson as the greatest challenge for the undefeated Dagestani in the 155lbs division. However, since then, a lot of water has gone under the bridge and Ferguson's recent destruction at the hands of Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 has led Nurmagomedov to believe that Ferguson isn't the same anymore.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to defend his lightweight title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Oct. 24 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The Russian was initially scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in April in an apparently "jinxed" fight that the UFC has tried to book on 5 occasions previously. This time too, it wasn't meant to be as Nurmagomedov was forced to pull out from the bout due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent interview with ESPN's Bret Okamoto, Khabib Nurmagomedov said that the possibility of a fight between him and Ferguson is well and truly over.
"Nobody can be the same for a long time -- one day, somebody gonna beat you, something gonna happen, God doesn't give nobody the power, reaction, mental, one level, always,'" Nurmagomedov said. "One day you're going to go down and his day come. It was May. Tony Ferguson is finished now. He's gonna come back, and someone gonna beat him again, I believe. Because when you take damage like this, you'll never going to be the same. Never. Even if you're Tony Ferguson."
Ferguson has continued to talk about a potential fight against Nurmagomedov following his defeat against Gaethje, vowing to come back stronger than ever. UFC president Dana White recently said that would love to book the matchup a sixth time if both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson win their next fights.
Khabib Nurmagomedov however wants Tony Ferguson to fight his teammate Islam Makhachev instead at UFC 254. Khabib Nurmagomedov's manager Ali Abdelaziz has offered Ferguson $100,000 to take the fight, and another $100,000 if he wins.
"Right now, [Ferguson] have choice," Nurmagomedov said. "He can come to Fight Island and fight Islam. Islam have six-fight win streak, he is almost in the Top 10. Why not? Why he don't want to take this fight? UFC is going to give him good money. Ali is going to give him $100,000 and $100,000. After this, maybe he can fight for the title if he win. But I think his time is finished."Published 14 Oct 2020, 00:08 IST