Should Ferguson win the interim lightweight belt at UFC 216 against Kevin Lee, he would expect to be first to face current UFC lightweight champion McGregor, whenever McGregor decides to return to MMA. But rumors, and McGregor’s coaching staff, suggest that McGregor will complete his trilogy with Diaz when he next defends his lightweight belt. Ferguson says the UFC needs to honor his belt and make McGregor face him should he win.
I believe that they absolutely need to. If that’s my belt and he has the belt, they need to unify both belts. F**k that Nate Diaz three shit. Both those b**ches f**in – they want to try and act like they want to go and make money. Nate don’t want to fight. He’s trying to recover from a f**king hit that he took with his management and all that other things. McGregor’s gotta defend or vacate. He’s gotta defend that belt, he needs to come back. If not, there goes his legacy, there goes the UFC s**t. I mean, really, legitimately, why do we have rankings? Why do we have a belt system? Why do we have all this other stuff?
Lee says he wants McGregor’s belt after he beats Tony Ferguson at UFC 216.
Tony is the toughest fighter in this division. He’s a tougher fighter than McGregor for sure…McGregor’s got zero to lose fighting Mayweather…You can call Conor the champ I guess, because he is on paper…Let’s see what he can do again a young [guy] in his prime…I’ma f**k him up, you feel me? … He knows if the folks wouldn’t break it up, I’ll kill the man. I’ll murder him.
Ferguson says he took the fight against Kevin Lee because he felt that winning an interim title would force the hand of the lightweight champ Conor McGregor and put him into the pole position to fight for the undisputed belt when the Irishman returns from his foray into the world of boxing after August 26th.
As far as what Conor is at, if he does ‘MayMac’ and he wins or loses it doesn’t matter, he’s going to have to defend his belt against the person that has the interim title. It’s defend or vacate. I mean that’s what makes sense to me because that’s the way the rules have always went. You have to fight the one who has the title, to unify the titles. If I’m going to have an interim title, I want to fight Conor…If he wants the trilogy with Nate he has to drop the belt. He can’t hold onto the belt and do all of that other stuff. He did it for a whole entire year, you had your kid, that’s great, now let’s fight…I’ve moved on from calling him ‘McNuggets’ because his game has gotten a little bit better. His boxing has gotten better. When he throws punches he has learned to block his face a little bit better. He’s got his sh*t together as far as his hands.
White announces Ferguson and Lee will square off for the UFC interim lightweight title at October’s UFC 216 event for October 7 in Las Vegas.
Kahbib’s not ready. It is what it is.
Ferguson says he’s coming after McGregor’s belt.
It’ll see you later Conor. I want my belt no matter who it is.
On a potential matchup with Justin Gaethje:
If he wants his ass kicked we’ll handle that
Ferguson vents his frustration at not being given a fight, with a series of posts to Twitter.
He then responds to No.10 ranked lightweight Al Iaquinta’s call out.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Attar says that if Diaz will not fight Ferguson, then he will likely fight Nurmagomedov in the fall
My assumption is that if Nate [Diaz] doesn’t sign on, it’s gonna be Khabib come this fall.
Ferguson says he’s impressed by McGregor’s switch to boxing.
Conor is not going to lose anything off it because he’s taking a chance in another sport, and I have to give homeboy credit, because that’s cool. I was always a multi-sport athlete when I was younger, and this right here is dope. I would love to box. I want to go into GLORY and I want to kickbox. I don’t like sitting on the sidelines. I like to stay active. I have to say that with Conor, you have to step up your boxing skills. You’re messing with a lion in there. MMA is a completely different sport. You are a striker, son, not a boxer. This is boxing. You’re not going to be able to go in there and strike. It’s a different sport and a different animal…Win or lose, I think Conor is an athlete; I think he’s going to have it in his head that he’s not going to have to sit on the sidelines. I see it in Conor’s face, I see it in his mannerisms that he’s hungry, that’s he’s always going to want to dig to try and get the bigger, better picture. He’s made that money, so maybe he’s not trying to look after the money part. He wants to secure that legacy and he wants to go down in the books.
Kavanagh joins criticism of Ferguson for not accepting a short notice fight with Michael Johnson after Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled out of UFC 209,
Leading to Ferguson to respond:
Trainers like you callin’ themselves coach. When all they do is ride coattails and try to claim. Maintain your lane bitch.
Ferguson responds to Diaz’s claims that he, McGregor and their manager, Audie Attar, were working together to book a big money fight while McGregor purses a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. In May Diaz said:
I heard Tony’s manager talking, saying that I need to get a fire up under Conor McGregor’s ass if I want to fight him for the third time. Like, I gotta do what? You guys should fight each other, motherf-cker. You guys have the same manager. You guys are working together against me.
To which Ferguson says:
He smokes a lot of good weed, I guess, because he’s got a lot of time on his hands just to do that. The dude’s delusional, man. Obviously I’m not in cahoots with McGregor. If you think that I am, then you’re f-cking high as f-ck. Straight up, he’s smoking that wacky tobacky, because I’m not. I don’t like the dude [McGregor]…Look, this guy was the last person that fought the guy that I want to get to.
White says that after Ferguson refused a catchweight fight against No.6 ranked lightweight Michael Johnson because it was not for a title and for a lower purse, he received a text from McGregor.
You know this shit that went on with Tony Ferguson and Khabib, right? Conor text me and said, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to f-cking pay that bum Tony Ferguson one dollar. You shouldn’t pay that guy one f-cking dime.’ He goes, ‘He was there, made weight and you lined up a fight for him – after Khabib fell out – you lined up a fight with Michael Johnson and he turned it down. F-cking bum. You shouldn’t pay him a dime’.
Diaz says he turned down a fight with Ferguson, and that he will not fight this year.
I’ve seen rumors about me and my brother fighting people but we haven’t done much talking. I think [the UFC] is trying to bring us back in but all the pressure is coming from these rumors [about who we are fighting]. I plan on sitting out this year and I’m fighting nobody. [The UFC] wants me to fight Tony Ferguson,” Diaz said. “I gladly accepted that fight and then I gladly turned it down because of circumstances. I’m all about the money. If it wasn’t about the money, then what the f-ck are we doing it for?” Diaz said. “[After I turned the fight down], I was ignored.
Ferguson, who hasn’t fought since summer 2016, says he wants to fight Diaz, while Diaz has said he wants a trilogy fight with McGregor.
Is [a Diaz fight] worth $60 in pay-per-view? Even one round of two Mexicans going toe-to-toe is going to have every fan around the world buying. That’s the kind of fight I want, and that’s what he wants, too, unless the money has gone to his head…He’s [all over] McGregor. He’s like a bad ex-girlfriend. You can wait for McNuggets, but we all know if you wait for that fool and he fights Mayweather and never fights again, you might never get a chance at another big-money fight besides [me]. I’m giving you a shot. If you don’t want it, perfect. If you like it, sign on the dotted line and let’s move on. You’re ranked, what? No. 8 or 9? Don’t you want to be better than that? Shit, dude, the last guy you beat [McGregor] is ranked higher than you. Don’t you want an opportunity at the belt? You’re skipping a couple names. I’m giving you an opportunity. I’m doing you a favor.
Nurmagomedov says he is completely responsible for not making weight at UFC 209, and that he still wants to fight Ferguson.
You know I don’t remember a lot of things, to be honest. Last night [before weigh in] and I know – I am going to a hospital, I feel bad. I know that a lot of fans are upset with me about this and I agree with this guys. Because this is one of the biggest fights in Russian MMA. for me, I can make history but I am going to the hospital you know. But sometimes this happens, sometimes you can die, you know. Everybody can die, everybody can [get] sick. Now I need a couple of months. Like two or three months. After three months I come for hard training and I want to fight in September. “I think this is my fault, this is my fault. I know that [my] body don’t listen to me and I think, I know, this is my fault. How can I say that this is the coach’s fault or the diet guy’s fault? This is 100% my fault. This is my dream fight – a fight with Tony Ferguson. I know I pulled out, but he pulled out one time, too. But nobody talked when he pulled out. When I pull out – everybody talks about this. But it’s ok. Inshallah (God willing) I will come back and we’ll see what happens.
On Twitter, Ferguson says McGregor should defend or vacate the lightweight title.
Ferguson says that McGregor cannot breat Mayweather at boxing.
No way. Floyd’s just a different animal.
He also says McGregor does not want to fight him:
That dude doesn’t want to fight me directly. Conor knows exactly what he’s up against, and he knows I’m a force to be reckoned with. He can’t talk his way through this one. And the same thing with Nate. It’s a different scale with me…Well, why not? I mean, literally I was just fighting for the [interim] belt. I feel like I am a legit contender, I’ve got nine wins in a row, I’ve got X amount of performance [of the night] victories. Really, I’ve been putting in some work. I feel like I deserve it…If he’s all about business and being a punk he needs to vacate that belt but, I don’t know. If you want to box, let’s go. I’ll box you. That dude would get eaten up on his feet.
White says that despite Ferguson being paid his fight purse (“show” money) of $250,000 for UFC 209, according to Nevada State Athletic Commission records, he was emotionally crushed he couldn’t compete in what was the most significant and highest-profile fight of his career.
The thing is that he was devastated. He came over to our offices, and he was as bad as anybody I’ve ever seen when a fight pulls out.
Ferguson sends a message to McGregor.
After Nurmagomedov pulls out of his fight with Ferguson, Cruz says Ferguson should fight McGregor.
We got to sit and wait and see what the UFC decides. The UFC are master matchmakers…It kind of messed up this card pretty good, because a lot of people were looking forward to it. So give ’em time to think about it. But I would says, looking from the outside in. You gotta kinda give the shot to Ferguson..You can’t hold Ferguson back because Khabib’s hurt.
White says that, despite several offers, there will be no replacement fight after Nurmagomedov dropped out of his fight against Ferguson. White says he did talk with White says he did speak with Michael Johnson — the last fighter to beat Ferguson — but ultimately cancelled the fight altogether.
The latest is I’m on suicide watch right now…The problem is that we’re one day away from the fight. it’s very hard. I respect the fact that so many people want to take the fight, but we’ll see what happens.
After Numagomedev’s doctor’s recommendation that the fighter not compete in UFC 209, the fight with Ferguson is cancelled. UFC statement:
UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov was transported to Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center Thursday evening due to weight management medical issues. He was treated and has been discharged, UFC officials confirmed. The scheduled interim lightweight championship bout between Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 has been cancelled on the doctor’s recommendation. UFC 209 emanates from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Saturday night live on Pay-Per-View at 10pm/7pm ETPT. Tyron Woodley takes on Stephen Thompson with his welterweight championship on the line in a rematch from their 2016 Fight of the Year contender at UFC 205.
Coach Kavanagh says he expects McGregor to fight the winner of the UFC 209 bout between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov.
I would love the challenge of it, for Conor to test himself in that area. I’ll be honest, right from the beginning I’ve been hearing ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’ … We’re kind of used to being told to what we can’t do, but we don’t pay too much attention to it, we just get on and make things happen. I’ve said it before, the Nate rematch interests me a lot because it’s one-one and how the styles match up. Almost on a par with that, not much difference, would be the winner of Khabib-Ferguson this weekend. I think Khabib does it, I think Khabib will be the winner, so I think Khabib will be the match-up out of that. I find it hard to imagine not seeing [McGregor back in MMA]. Even if and when the Mayweather fight was going to happen, and he got that out of the way. I know, like myself, I do believe his true love is free combat sports and there is no ‘free-er’ combat sport than mixed martial arts. I can’t imagine him not fighting the winner of [Khabib vs. Ferguson]. Now we gotta see what happens with the Mayweather talks and all that, but yeah, I do believe that will happen.
At the press conference for UFC 209, Ferguson taunts Nurmagomedov about his weight.
Have fun with that weight cut.
At a press conference for UFC 209, Ferguson says McGregor is trying to avoid him.
He’s trying to avoid me by going over to boxing. I honestly couldn’t care less. This is a man’s sport we play…I’ve been putting in my my work and my effort, and Khabib and me are going to have this war. Whatever Conor does, I gave him a pass. I don’t have to talk too much shit. He’s got a kid coming up. I told him, go spend some of that money, dude. Go do what you’ve got to do and earn that little thing that you’ve got, and then come back when you’re ready to be a man. I’m at 155. Once I’m done, I’ll move on and make sure whoever’s next is going to get it. But right now, the fight at hand is Khabib Nurmagomedov, and we’re here to do business.
Ferguson explains his ‘McNuggets’ taunt against McGregor.
I’m not going to start thinking I’m the shit or focusing on Conor. I’m going to stay grounded, humbled and keep earning my way to victory. ‘TSKYH’ is tattooed on my arm. ‘Think Strong Keep Your Head.’ That means don’t be floating in the clouds…Money made McGregor soft. I say ‘McNuggets,’ because he’s made of that fake shit, that pink stuff from McDonalds that nobody wants. Do I get a little pissed [I’m asked about him]? Yeah, I get a little heated. But the real belt is between myself and Khabib. He’s 24-0. Dude, I forget how many wins I have. I don’t even care anymore. Those numbers keep racking up.
Ferguson talks about his upcoming fight with Nurmagomedov at UFC 209.
For UFC 209 you can expect fireworks. I’ve been working on my hands like you would not believe, my head-movement, I don’t want to get hit anymore. It’s a flawless victory I am looking for. I’ll go out there and out-condition this guy, put the pressure on him and completely shut up all the fans out there who are haters.
If he wins he will face McGregor.
You know what, everybody’s got a shot. It’s a fighter’s chance and anybody can get knocked out on any single day. But this isn’t four-oz gloves, this is a completely different sport. When you get hit you can’t take em down like he tried to do with Nate Diaz. If Conor McGregor and myself were ever to go toe-to-toe I’d put him down, hard. I’d put him down with snap-jitsu, he would go to snapdown city and that would just be the end of Conor.
Ferguson continues his attacks on McGregor:
He wants to call himself the ghost but he’s gonna fade like a ghost cause he’s a buster. That dude’s fake as f-ck. He’s trying to quit, he’s trying to look for excuses on his way out. He don’t wanna be in a man’s division. Go play somewhere else, McNugget. We’re real fighters over here. You ain’t no ghost…I’m that dude that won’t back down. Mayweather’s gonna knock his ass out. Mayweather’s too much for him – and he knows that shit too.
Ferguson responds to a tweet posted by McGregor regarding McGregor’s fight with Alvarez:
During his interview at An Evening with.., in Manchester, McGregor dismisses any threat from Ferguson or Nurmagomedov.
Not a whisper about that one. But business is business. You’ve got to create [attention], because the two guys who are fighting for that interim belt are bums. I always look at the game, the fight game in the UFC, and sometimes I wonder to myself why it’s never broken through to that next level, why no one before me has ever gotten to that next level. Because they’re all dogshit. They’re sloppy, messy, chinny. It’s not pretty to look at, and it’s the same with these two clowns. Two bums fighting for an interim belt. They should be very happy that I’m chilling now, taking a break, and they have this little chance to think that they’re up there. But in reality, they’re nowhere close. They both would be knocked out stiff. Both chinny, both wild, too sloppy…F*ck them all. F*ck every one of them.
Ferguson calls out McGregor for never having had to defend a belt.
Who knows if ‘McNuggets’ is going to come in there and defend his belt. That poor bastard has never defended even one belt in his entire life. If he’s trying to box – I will go toe-to-toe with that mother f-cker, and I will knock him out. That dude is going to try to go with [Floyd] Mayweather, the Olympic boxer? It’s OK, son. It’s a completely different sport. Come back over here, 155-pound division and defend your belt if you’re really man enough. [McGregor and Nurmagomedov] are puzzles that I got that missing pieces to. I got that missing piece for these guys. That’s something a lot of these guys haven’t figured out. I’m the antidote for these viruses.
Nurmagomedov says McGregor is holding up the division, and that Ferguson is a stronger opponent.
Because he never defends his belts. He never [defended] his Cage Warriors belts, never defended his featherweight belt, and now UFC lightweight, I don’t think is different. But he has to defend. We’ll see. I don’t think about this too much. I think about Tony and March 4. This is the biggest fight in my life…I feel Tony’s tougher than Conor. Because if I take [Conor] down, fight finished. If I take down Tony, we have to fight. Take down Conor, what’s he going to do? His condition is very bad. His spirit, his heart is small. I think Tony’s tougher than Conor.
Ferguson says he’s frustrated by McGregor holding up the division.
It’s for an interim title. It should be for the real shit. Am I little pissed about it? Yeah. Is Conor going to defend his belt? Little shit. Probably not. He’s going to run. Go ahead. Go run. Go try to box so you can get your ass kicked, too, then when you’re ready to come back they’re going to strip your belt. At 155, I’m going to be holding that and you’re going to be like ‘oh I want my belt back’. I don’t give a f-ck. This is the real fight. The fight’s between Khabib and Ferguson. That’s the real deal fight…Honestly I could give two shits about it. He’s got his family, he’s got his things, he’s got his hands full. He’s a grown-ass man, he can handle his own shit. Same thing with me. I’m here to kick everybody’s ass in this division. I’m not going to excuse anybody of an ass whooping.
White announces that Ferguson will fight Nurmagomedov for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209 on March 4. At one point Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson seemed as if it was off the table, with Nurmagomedov claiming he was moving on from Ferguson who — according to White — was asking for too much money. It’s understood that Ferguson and the promotion came to a middle ground.
Nurmagomedov says that if the UFC won’t pay enough, he will boost Ferguson’s purse with $200,000 of his own money.
Ferguson says McGregor is no match for him.
Honestly, people are going to do what they’re going to do. This is the fight game. I’m not worried or scared about absolutely anybody who’s not talking about me. That dude (McGregor) does not want any part of me. That dude got beat by a No. 5 in the world, Nate Diaz. Everybody’s talking about him being the best, the best, the best. I’m like, dude, you got beat by No. 5. I’m No. 2. I’m the only name that he hasn’t thrown out there in the wind. He doesn’t want any part of this. So it’s like I said, go ahead. You got a little pass from me. Go enjoy your family time. Do you thing and enjoy your life. You have some money, go ahead and go spend it. Do your thing, relax, enjoy your time, so I don’t fight you. And while you’re doing that, I’m going to keep over here wrecking this shit, me and my crew. And we’re going to go onto the next stage, which is when you come back, we’re going to wreck your ass.
According to reports, Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson’s interim-UFC lightweight title bout is “90%” complete.
Ferguson dismisses McGregor’s achievements,
This guy’s picking his opponents. He’s a paper champ. When you’re doing that, of course you’re going to be watching who you’re fighting…I can’t really see Conor as the champion. I see right now as if the title was open. Conor’s taking a step off and I don’t even like to throw his name in because the dude fought one person at 155.
And says he wants to fight Nurmagomedov.
I’ve been sitting here and Khabib, he’s been kind of inactive. I’ve been the most active in this damn place… I’m racking up points here, that’s all that matters. I’m gonna go down in the books as a living legend. That’s what’s gonna happen, I’m gonna be in the UFC Hall of Fame…I’m ready to sign on the dotted line and I think the UFC knows that. And I think it needs to be for that belt. I don’t think, it needs to be for that belt, damn it. Straight up, I’ve been putting in my time, I’ve been putting in my numbers. This is my time. Let’s get some heat going for this thing. Let’s do this for The Ultimate Fighter. We can do Team Khabib versus Team Ferguson, that’d be dope.
Ferguson criticises McGregor for taking time off for his girlfriend’s pregnancy.
That dude does not want any part of me. That dude got beat by No. 5 in the world, Nate Diaz. And everybody’s talking about him being the best and I’m like ‘Dude you got beat by No. 5. I’m No. 3 and No. 2. I’m the only name you haven’t thrown out there in the wind. It’s just like a fart though and it’s going to come right back at you and hit you hard!..You’ve got a little pass from me. Go enjoy your family time. Do your thing, enjoy your life, you have some money so go ahead and go spend it. And while you’re doing that, I’m going to stay over here, wrecking this shit with my crew. And we’re going to go on to the next stage which is, when you come back, we’re going to wreck your ass…When I had my baby and all my stuff, I didn’t take a leave of absence. I manned up! I did my thing and I fought. I’m just here doing what I have to do.