Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is, in many ways, the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao of MMA. While boxing fans eventually bore witness to Mayweather/Pacquaio, it is uncertain if MMA fans will ever say the same about Nurmagomedov/Ferguson.
The two last competed on the same card two years ago at the mega event that was UFC 229 in 2018, and they were set to do so again at UFC 254, with Nurmagomedov defending the lightweight championship against Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson in negotiations to fight Dustin Poirier. However, talks between Ferguson and Poirier stalled and eventually died, and a major reason for this was the insertion of new UFC lightweight and former Bellator champion Michael Chandler into the mix.
“The UFC kept delaying telling us the (Poirier) fight was confirmed,” Ferguson said in an ESPN interview. “It was like, the minute they asked, I’m still training for Dustin, for the Chandler thing. Now, they’re bringing in a new dude, who I have no (expletive) clue who he is. I’m not trying to (expletive) on him from a marketing standpoint, but the dude has less than 100,000 (followers) on Twitter. You’re going to try to get him more notoriety by throwing him against me and throw him on the Khabib card. I get that, but don’t pay the (expletive) more than us. He has zero time in the UFC. I don’t know about ‘roids and all that stuff. I don’t get into that (expletive) with everybody.”
Tony Ferguson maintains that he would be willing to fight Michael Chandler, but given everything he has provided to the company, including dollars, the deal would have to be commensurate with his promotional value, especially in comparison to what is being offered to a newcomer.
“I got to the point where I’m like, ‘You know what? I want to fight. Chandler, you want your welcome? You want to do this (expletive)? Yeah? Let’s put it on paper. UFC, let’s make the money right. Let’s make it interesting.’ I draw pay-per-view buys,” Ferguson said. “They wanted value. I created value. Here I am.”
Michael Chandler is still the official replacement fighter for the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje lightweight championship unification bout on October 24 on Fight Island, and there is no word yet on when Tony Ferguson will be competing again, though Dana White did suggest that he wanted to make a fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson in the future.
What do you make of Tony Ferguson’s comments regarding the failed negotiations between him and the UFC pertaining to UFC 254?