Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Just days away from UFC 249, Ferguson is preparing to face Justin Gaethje to crown an interim lightweight champion after Nurmagomedov dropped off the card because current travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from traveling from Russia to the United States.
Considering injuries, weight cutting errors and now a pandemic have doomed the fight with Nurmagomedov from happening, it’s understandable why Ferguson has no desire to revisit that subject again.
“I’m not going to answer that f*cking question,” Ferguson told MMA Fighting during the UFC 249 conference call when asked about rebooking the Nurmagomedov fight for the sixth time. “We’re worrying about UFC 249. The fight’s with Justin Gaethje.”
Nurmagomedov’s name coming up only further enraged Ferguson, who has suffered through numerous fight cancellations in his attempt to hand the undefeated Russian the first loss of his career.
While it’s expected that the winner of the UFC 249 main event will go onto unify the lightweight title against Nurmagomedov later this year, Ferguson scoffed at his showdown with Gaethje determining anything less than the best fighter in the world at 155 pounds.
“F*ck Khabib. I’m going to be real,” Ferguson said. “I want to say f*ck Khabib. I’m defending my belt for the third time. This is for the real belt. This is not for an interim title. This is for the real championship sh*t. It’s champ sh*t only, buddy.
“That dude’s a b*tch. I’m going to be real. Him and McNuggets (Conor McGregor). They both need to f*cking retire. The only two real men out there are going to be me and Justin Gaethje. American motherf*ckers.”
Regardless of his feelings about Nurmagomedov, there’s little doubt that Ferguson has a lot to gain from taking that fight.
On the flipside, Ferguson is risking his 12-fight win streak and that eventual showdown with the reigning lightweight champion by taking on a very dangerous opponent like Gaethje at UFC 249.
Since joining the promotion, Gaethje has earned seven post-fight bonuses in only six fights while racking up knockouts in every single victory he’s earned inside the octagon. He’s also a much different matchup stylistically but Ferguson didn’t blink when Gaethje’s name was offered to him as a replacement.
“It wasn’t short notice. I’ve been training for f*cking six to seven months,” Ferguson explained. “As soon as we found out we were going to fight Khabib, I was already training in December. Obviously, conditioning’s there, strength’s there, my body’s completely changed.
“I didn’t have a strength and conditioning coach besides myself and I actually had my trainers put me through the ringer for every single practice. I mean 12 hour days, I mean seriously, man, it wasn’t easy. But I made it happen. I’m very lucky to be able to have a f*cking team, one of the best teams that’s out there in the whole entire world, and I’m ready for f*cking anything.”
Whether it was Nurmagomedov, Gaethje or somebody else, Ferguson was ready for war and nothing was going to stop him from competing on May 9.
“I went on The Ultimate Fighter and I won that b*tch at 170 pounds and it was a tournament,” Ferguson said. “So it doesn’t matter who you put in front of me.
“I’m going to go out there and give my best. Win or lose, I’m going to walk away a f*cking winner.”