Tony Ferguson doesn’t have a belt right now according to the UFC but that doesn’t mean he’s considering himself as anything other than a champion.
Ferguson was supposed to fight in April at the much talked about UFC 223 card in a bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov that would determine a new undisputed lightweight champion.
Unfortunately just days away from the event, Ferguson suffered a knee injury while promoting his fight during a media cycle for the UFC and he was forced out of the contest. Ferguson then underwent surgery on his knee while Nurmagomedov went onto become champion with a unanimous decision win over late replacement Al Iaquinta.
While the UFC has declared Nurmagomedov as the only champion, thus stripping Ferguson of his interim title, the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner doesn’t quite see it that way. That’s why he’s still targeting a showdown with Nurmagomedov once his surgically repaired knee is back to 100-percent.
“The doctor told me recovery time is anywhere from three to six months with this kind of procedure, but I heal quick. Whenever Khabib’s b–ch ass comes back, that’s when I’ll be back. I’m thinking November,” Ferguson said when speaking to ESPN.
“The UFC has indicated my title is gone and Khabib is the only champion at 155 pounds, but the UFC hasn’t mentioned anything official to my management. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still the true 155-pound champion. I never lost my belt.”
The downside of losing the interim title that he won last year is that also changes the language for the contract of his next fight where he would be competing as a contender rather than a champion.
Being a champion in the UFC comes along with significant financial perks and Ferguson doesn’t believe he should be penalized for an injury that was out of his control.
“That’s a big middle finger to ‘T-Ferg’ right there — that’s a kick to the groin if they do that,” Ferguson said. “At the end of the day, does the UFC really like its fighters? I’m one of their toughest fighters. Don’t kick me when I’m down.
“I missed out on pay-per-view points, my purse, a big payday; a lot of things behind the scenes. They have to either give me my title back or make sure I’m fighting under that same contract. I’ve earned that.”
The only problem Ferguson might face is the potential return of Conor McGregor, which could throw his entire plan into chaos.
McGregor was the undisputed lightweight champion until he was stripped after Nurmagomedov won his belt at UFC 223. Add to that, McGregor’s return will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about events of the year and a showdown with Nurmagomedov could score huge at the box office and pay-per-view.
Still, Ferguson isn’t giving up hope that the UFC will do right by him when he’s finally ready to return to action later this year.
“I think the UFC is going to do what they want to do, like any other time. But it’s disrespectful to me to strip my title,” Ferguson said. “I should still be the interim champion. In fact, I should be the champion and Khabib should be the interim champion.”
Who do you think Tony Ferguson should face in his return to the UFC later this year?