It seemed like a storybook ending for Khabib Nurmagomedov to retire undefeated after dispatching Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. For every person who dubbed the Dagestani grappler the greatest fighter of all-time, there’s one man who has unfinished business with the currently indisposed lightweight champion.
Tony Ferguson has the inactive fighter on top of his list of fighters to face, not giving in to the retirement hoopla. After five different attempts to book the fight, plans fell through over and over again. Like most fighters, pro athletes, and celebrities who retire from their profession, only to return again to work another day, the fellow lightweight expects the same from the flawless Sambo specialist. For “El Cucuy”, he can only dream, taunt, seeth, and, of course, wait for the status on Nurmagomedov, not having any of it.
Ferguson, who was The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 winner, even claims to have seen the option of retirement on the part of Nurmagomedov. With the UFC Lightweight Championship still in the nest of “The Eagle”, one, like Ferguson, can only speculate that it’s only a matter of time before we see Nurmagomedov in the Octagon again. At least, Ferguson feels so.
“I completely called it out,” Ferguson told Submission Radio. “I called it out on my post. You guys can see that. I called he was going to retire. I mean, (manager) Ali Abdelaziz did his job. He kept his client safe – kept him away from very dangerous opponents. I mean, that’s what an agent and a manager are supposed to do – although, he is a piece of (expletive). But I have to say, he did the smart thing. I mean, he avoided me at all (expletive) costs. I mean, the Russians, they avoided me at all (expletive) costs. That’s (expletive) awesome.”
Also on Ferguson’s radar are both Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, who are scheduled to meet up on January 23, 2021, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Instead of meeting up with Poirier where the company couldn’t formulate a plan for the fight, Poirier moved on to face McGregor, which leaves Ferguson without an opponent. Ferguson accused Poirier of “selling out”, where the two faced off previously in 2014 with McGregor winning. Ferguson also pursued McGregor during a 12-fight win streak, to no avail. Frustrated with the rejections from both fighters, he rightfully took aim.
“They’re both b—hes,” Ferguson said. “They want to play their f–king grab ass game and go play boxing. We don’t play MMA. This is completely different. You guys don’t want to play this kind of ball league. You want to take Conor’s f–king bribe money to go and open up your academy while you should be saving your money, paying it, donating your time, and all this other stuff. You should have had your academy already. You’ve been fighting for years. That’s some bullsh-t excuse to not want to fight.”
Sporting a 15-2 record inside the Octagon, finding a worthy opponent for Ferguson has become a chore for matchmaker Sean Shelby. Worse for Ferguson, it also looks like no one seems willing to face a man that has the angst built up and ready to unleash. Ferguson last fought at UFC 249, losing to Gaethje by TKO in the fifth round. What his next step may be is anyone’s guess. Who should Tony Ferguson face before and following the McGregor-Poirier bout? How long will Ferguson wait for Nurmagomedov to return before he moves on to another opponent? Who will that opponent be? Will Nurmagomedov stay retired knowing that the lightweight title is still in his possession?
With these questions being asked and more to come, it’s best for Ferguson and his representatives to find a solution to serve justice to a man, who at 36, has accomplished a lot to be considered a threat in the lightweight division. Otherwise, a tenure spanning close to a decade could be up in limbo.