Rival Eyes UFC Champ: ‘I See Fear’

UFC Champ Khabib Nurmagomedov

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Former UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson isn’t going to let his loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 back in May get in his head right now. Ferguson, 36, from Oxnard, California, revealed to ESPN on Wednesday that he still plans on getting his long-desired megafight against UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov no matter what.

“I see fear in his voice if he thinks he has to talk bad about people,” Ferguson said per 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.”

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Ferguson Was Reacting To Khabib’s Comments From Last Week

Ferguson was reacting to Nurmagomedov’s recent comments to the same outlet about “El Cucuy” in which “The Eagle” said he didn’t think he’d ever face Ferguson inside the Octagon.

“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 per ESPN.

“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.”

Obviously, Ferguson didn’t like those comments one bit, so he let the world know that he still plans on tracking down Nurmagomedov for the future showdown.

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Gaethje Beat Ferguson at UFC 249

Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were originally supposed to meet at UFC 249 in May before the COVID-19 pandemic caused Nurmagomedov to pull out of the fight.

In for the champ stepped Gaethje, who stunningly stopped Ferguson in the fifth round. That gave Gaethje the inside track on facing Nurmagomedov next and put Ferguson in a foul mood about the whole thing altogether.


UFC 254 Free Fight: Justin Gaethje vs Tony FergusonInterim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje shocked many UFC fans around the world with this dominant performance over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 earlier this year. Gaethje gets his shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov in a champion vs champion bout that headlines UFC 254 on Saturday, October 24. SPECIAL START TIME of 2pm ET / 11am PT!…2020-10-12T17:00:31Z

That mood only got more foul after his proposed co-main event fight at UFC 254 against Dustin Poirier got shelved over money.

“I’m going to be real,” Ferguson told ESPN (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “I don’t know what their plans were before or after, but I was already ready. I was already counting on it. Seriously, I planned around it. I’m not much of a planner, so I was already going ahead of it, but then Dana wanted to speak for me. He wanted to go out there and be like, ‘Tony is going to take this fight.’ Like, bro, we’re not friends. I never said we were friends.”


Khabib vs. Ferguson Fell Through 5 Times

Ferguson not getting his hands on Nurmagomedov at UFC 249 earlier this year was the fifth time in the last five years that the matchup fell through due to various reasons.

While Ferguson remains disappointed about his loss to Gaethje, the American also said the setback can help make him a better fighter going forward.

“I learned a lot about myself in that fight,” Ferguson said per ESPN. “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.”


Ferguson Okay With Facing New UFC Star

On top of that, Ferguson affirmed he would be happy to face three-time Bellator Champ Michael Chandler next so long as the UFC is paying Ferguson more in the fight than its new signee.

“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.”

Chandler signed with the UFC last month and is serving as the back-up fighter for the UFC 254 main event between Nurmagomedov and Gaethje. If one of those guys can’t fight for some reason, Chandler stands ready.

READ NEXT: Dana White Reveals ‘Biggest Fight We’ve Ever Had’

Twitter: @Kelsey_McCarson

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