Khabib on Tony Ferguson Rejecting UFC Interim Title Fight: 'You Had Your Chance'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2019

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 file photo Khabib Nurmagomedov speaks at a news conference after the UFC 229 mixed martial arts event in Las Vegas. UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is probably the best-known Muslim athlete in Russia, and he's rapidly becoming a leading conservative voice at home. When a National Guardsman was killed while apparently trying to break up a fight outside an establishment variously described as a cafe and nightclub early Sunday morning, Nurmagomedov called for a crackdown on the local nightlife in his mostly-Muslim home region of Dagestan.(AP Photo/John Locher, File)
John Locher/Associated Press

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov isn't about to feel sorry for Tony Ferguson after Ferguson turned down a fight for the interim lightweight crown.

UFC President Dana White told Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com that Ferguson would've battled Max Holloway in the Octagon. Instead, Holloway will take on Dustin Poirier at UFC 236 on April 13.

Nurmagomedov weighed in with his opinion on the matter in an Instagram post:

"Tony you had your chance and you missed it, and that’s your fault only. You know that I’m disqualified and can’t fight, but it’s not fair to strip me off the title, I fought 3 times in 9 months. I won and defended my belt.
As a fighter you deserve a title fight, you are great fighter and opponent, but now you have to fight or wait for my DQ to be over and fight(but UFC doesn’t want it). I don’t understand your offenses, if you fell down, you got to get up, not complain."

Nurmagomedov successfully defended the lightweight title against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 last October. He subsequently received a nine-month suspension following the post-fight brawl that spilled over into the crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Okamoto noted Nurmagomedov could've trimmed three months off of his punishment if he took part in an anti-bullying ad, but the 30-year-old "does not intend to return until this fall."

On merit, Ferguson deserves a shot at Nurmagomedov. He's listed as the No. 1 contender in UFC's official lightweight rankings, and he's riding an 11-fight winning streak. Ferguson is 24-3 in his mixed martial arts career, with his last defeat coming in May 2012.

In addition, UFC has lined up Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov on four separate occasions only to have unforeseen circumstances force a change.

If Ferguson wants a crack at Nurmagomedov now, though, he basically has to play the waiting game. Ferguson won't get his wish until July at the earliest, and that's assuming Nurmagomedov steps right back into the Octagon as soon as he's eligible.

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