Former lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov is open to coaching opposite Tony Ferguson for a future season of the UFC’s television series, “The Ultimate Fighter.”
But if the promotion doesn’t grant the opportunity, Nurmagomedov will offer Ferguson “a deal on the Eagle Fighting Championship platform.”
“El Cucuy’s” challenge came about when he spoke with Ariel Helwani on May 16’s episode of “The MMA Hour.” Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have a long history as two elites of the lightweight division. They’ve been paired up five times to compete inside the Octagon, however the bout fell through every time.
Nurmagomedov retired from the sport and vacated his 155-pound strap in 2020. He’s now focused on his fight promotion, Eagle Fight Championship, as well as training combatants like No. 4-ranked UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev.
Even though “The Eagle” is no longer competing in MMA, Ferguson hasn’t lost the desire to go against his old foe.
“I believe that when his dad [Khabib’s] said we were supposed to compete, I believe that,” Ferguson told the outlet via BJPenn.com. “I would love to be able to coach against him in ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ how about that? You know, best man wins on the team. I guarantee my coaching is a lot better than yours, Khabib. Not a lot of people understand that.”
“I built a team for a 12-fight win streak, and I can definitely build a team again,” Ferguson continued.
The fighter said he has “nothing personal against [Khabib], besides him running away for the pandemic and being a scared dude, but I gotta respect that family [comes] first.”
And Ferguson also reiterated that it doesn’t matter what kind of competition he faces Nurmagomedov in, just that he wants to take on “The Eagle” at one point. “Jiu-jitsu, soccer, it doesn’t matter what game we play,” El Cucuy said. “It would be cool to go out there, shake the dude’s hand, squash some beef, and then move on.”
Nurmagomedov Responded to Ferguson, Said He Likes the Idea
A day later, Nurmagomedov responded to Ferguson’s challenge, sharing his willingness to participate.
“Tony I like the idea about TUF, call your bosses and let them make an offer, but if they don’t have ideas, I myself will offer you a deal on the @EagleFightClub platform, we doing some business here you know,” Nurmagomedov’s tweet reads.
Nurmagomedov left the sport with a professional MMA record of 29-0, which includes three lightweight title defenses over Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. He left the competitive side of the sport as the No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter, as per the official UFC rankings.
Ferguson Is 0-4 Since He Was Last Scheduled to Fight Nurmagomedov
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were scheduled to fight each other on April 18, 2020, at UFC 249. It was the fifth time the two had been set to fight, but as history has it, it was at the start of the global pandemic.
The event was postponed until May 9 and it was moved from New York to Florida. Further, The Eagle, who was in Dagestan, Russia, was forced off the card due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
El Cucuy fought Gaethje for the interim lightweight belt and lost via fifth-round TKO. Ferguson has been defeated in three consecutive contests since then, losing to Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush and Michael Chandler.