Former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson sees no reason why he should not be fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title next.
Ferguson (24-3) returned to action in the co-main event of UFC 229 Saturday night as he impressively defeated Anthony Pettis via TKO (corner stoppage) after two rounds in what was a Fight of the Year candidate.
It took Ferguson’s UFC winning streak to 11 straight victories, which was later matched by Nurmagomedov (27-0) in the main event as he dominated Conor McGregor and eventually won with a fourth round neck crank submission to retain his title.
Ideally, Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson should be next; however, it is probably the most cursed match-up in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The two dominant lightweights have been scheduled to fight each other four times already but all four times, it has been called off either due to injury or botched weight-cuts.
It was most recently scheduled for UFC 223 in April this year before Ferguson tore his LCL in a freak accident a week before the fight and required surgery.
Having previously urged fans to keep believing one of MMA’s biggest dream fights could still happen, “El Cucuy” feels it should be booked for the fifth time, especially after what happened at UFC 229.
“Khabib and I deserve to fight,” Ferguson said during the post-fight press conference. “We need to fight for the fifth time – we need to try this out again. He is the champ. I was the interim champ. I’m still the f—–g champ. There’s no BS in this.”
Ferguson also laughed off suggestions that McGregor may get a rematch.
The Irishman never really troubled his opponent during the fight but after the infamous brawl that took place following the fight, along with the build-up to what is likely to be the biggest pay-per-view event in the promotion’s history, the UFC may look to book a lucrative rematch with McGregor himself calling for it.
Ferguson though, sees no reason for it, especially with the way McGregor performed against Nurmagomedov.
“Rematch? The dude got finished,” Ferguson added. “The dude got straight-up finished – no, I’m going to stop you right there. The guy got finished. If you get finished, you get to move the f–k on. I’m here. I just finished Anthony Pettis via verbal tap.”
While Ferguson is likely to get his title fight next, there is still some uncertainty in the division.
After getting the submission win, Nurmagomedov started a brawl between the two teams by attacking McGregor’s teammate Dillon Danis in the crowd and is likely to face strict punishment from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
UFC president Dana White, who didn’t award Nurmagomedov the title after the fight, even admitted the 30-year-old could be stripped of the belt, especially if he’s given a long suspension.
If that is the case, Ferguson would be guaranteed to fight for the title next or may even be crowned the new champion. Regardless, he plans on setting an example for the sport.
“You have these two knuckleheads over there making this sport look bad,” Ferguson explained. “So when I had that media scrum over there, and I yelled at all you guys, ‘Don’t be feeding that bulls–t.’ Straight up. I am the champ. I don’t have a belt up here, I don’t need a belt up here to be the champ. So if you guys want to feed that, go ahead. Put that in your pocket and take it with you. But what I’m doing here is cleaning up the sport. This is an Olympic-level type of sport and it needs to be cleaned up.”
“… I train my a– off, and I have a bunch of fighters looking at me to set this sport clean. I’m going to do what I’ve got to do. I’m not going to worry about anybody else doing what they’re doing, because they’re going to have to go home at night and they’re going to have to decide if they were doing the right thing. Not me.”