With a little over a week to go before Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson throw down for the UFC interim lightweight title at UFC 209, tensions are already running high between the world’s top 155-pound contenders.
The two lightweights effectively took over the UFC’s media conference call ahead of UFC 209 on Thursday, erupting into bitter exchanges over everything from their past opponents to Ferguson’s contract negotiations with the UFC, with neither man rarely letting the other get a word in edgewise.
“Look man, if somebody doesn’t piss me off, I’ll finish them in the first round. This dude pissed me off,” Ferguson said at one point following another heated exchange. “I’m going to drag him into deep waters and make him deal with the hammerhead.
“I’ve already talked to him about it. You guys are going to see f*cking fireworks. This should be the main event. I don’t know why Stephen Thompson and T-Wood (Tyron Woodley) are the main event. This is the sh*t everybody is talking about. This is the third time. The third time’s the charm.”
The fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson is one the UFC has attempted to make three times over the past several years, only for plans to inevitably fall apart due to injuries sustained on both sides. But now both lightweights are healthy and riding the two longest win streaks of the division. Ferguson has won nine UFC consecutive fights while Nurmagomedov has won eight, and the winner of UFC 209’s co-main event will claim the interim 155-pound title underneath reigning champion Conor McGregor.
Nurmagomedov went so far as to call the bout “the greatest match-up in lightweight history.” But he also continually pointed to the fact that the fight very nearly failed to come to fruition due to stalled contract negotiations on Ferguson’s side. Things were only booked after Nurmagomedov turned down an offer to fight current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo for an interim lightweight strap, and Nurmagomedov reminded Ferguson of that fact over and over again on Thursday.
“Everybody knows I make this fight. And Tony knows I make this fight, because he tried running away,” Nurmagomedov said. “I ask you about money. Why don’t you take money? I ask you about $ 200,000. This is big money in USA.”
“I don’t want your fake-ass money, dude,” Ferguson responded. “You know what, you keep this money, you wipe your ass with it, do whatever the f*ck you want with it. Why don’t you donate it? Why don’t you be a man and donate that.”
“No, calm down, calm down, relax, relax,” Nurmagomedov said. “Because you understand. You understand who is who and what happens after this fight.
“I bring you here. Nobody bring you. I bring you.”
“You didn’t make sh*t, dude,” Ferguson said. “You didn’t make sh*t. What, you going to fight another Darrell Horcher? Is that what you’re going to fight? Another Darrel Horcher and bully him? Come on, man. Nobody brought (me here). So all the nine victories that I have, nine victories that I have in a row, you’re going to be like: ‘I did that. Tony, I did that. I did all the work.’ You didn’t do sh*t. F*ck you, Khabib. You didn’t do nothing, dude. You’re a bully. I’m a f*cking matador. I’m going to finish your ass. You ain’t got sh*t against me.”
And so it went, two of the world’s most dangerous 155-pounders trading shots back and forth about virtually every topic under the sun, from Ferguson’s wrestling capabilities to Nurmagomedov’s manager to both men’s combined records against shared opponents.
“You got too many people talking in your ear,” Ferguson said at one point. “And that’s your problem. That’s why I’m going to win. That’s it. You’re focusing on so much other bullsh*t, dude. You’re talking about breaking arms and talking about fighting Conor, doing this and that and all this other stuff. Dude, I hear you. I understand it, man. You’re going to lose. You’ve got to look out for yourself.”
“I think about you,” Nurmagomedov responded. “I think I’m going to break you. This is what I think. I don’t think about Conor, other stuff. What are you talking about? You talk about Conor.”
“Dude, I am unbreakable,” Ferguson said. “Trust me, dude, I’m a f*cking machine now. You have no idea what you’re dealing with. You just woke me up. You keep laughing. You keep laughing. I’m the new John Wick.”
“How many times you lose?” Nurmagomedov replied. “Danny Castillo beat your ass. You remember this?”
“Danny Castillo didn’t do sh*t,” Ferguson angrily shot back. “He f*cking laid on me, dude. I beat his ass too. Trust me, the only thing he could do is hold on for dear life. You lost to (Gleison) Tibau. I’m sorry but you lost to Tibau. Sorry, not sorry. You remember that fight? Look, I’ll post it up today. I’ll post it up today, and I’ve seen you lose in that Sambo fight, that Sambo match where you were f*cking crying on your knees because you lost.”
“Which Sambo fight?” Nurmagomedov said. “When I am 17 years old? Of course I lose a lot of times when I competed immature. But professional career…”
“Everything’s been handed to you,” Ferguson interrupted. “Nothing’s been handed to me. Nothing has been handed to me. I had to earn every single step of the way.”
Considering the length of time Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been forced to think about one another due to past bookings, it was evident the rivalry had grown personal ahead of UFC 209. But through it all, the fire raging on the two sides always came back to Nurmagomedov’s assertion that it was his stand against the UFC that led Ferguson to secure the biggest payday of his Octagon career.
And with nine days to go until the two meet on March 4 in Las Vegas, Ferguson wasn’t trying to hear it.
“Doubt never got me here, and nobody else held my hand to get me here,” Ferguson said. “My f*cking hard work, my determination, and my finishing people and earning performance victories has gotten me here. I’m going to finish this dude like I did everybody else. I’m not going to tell you how, because I’m not like anybody else. This guy wants to talk about trying to break me, break my arm, break this, and he says I talk too much? Dude, I haven’t even f*cking said nothing. You got 1.9 million people that are going to be f*cking sad as f*ck when I go in and I finish your ass.”
“I want to say something,” Nurmagomedov interjected. “Please, listen. When you UFC asks me, ‘Khabib, you have to fight with Tony,’ I said okay, let’s go. This is what I want, because you have nine win streak, I have eight win streak, we have to fight. And after UFC asked me, you said, ‘please, please, give me money, give me this.’ You tried to run.”
“Oh, there’s no f*cking please, please,” Ferguson shot back. “Dude, it’s what I’ve earned. You can talk as much sh*t. Like I said, your management speaks for you. And you know what? I don’t give two f*cks. Try to hype it up. You were trying to f*cking pay me. I said, you know what? I spit on your money. Your money is f*cking worthless to me. I can give two f*cks. I want the UFC’s money because I earned it.”
“You know why you ask for too much money?” Nurmagomedov responded. “Because you know this is your last fight. This is your last fight in UFC. That’s why. We’ll see March 4th. I’m going to break your face. I’m going to break your career.”
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