Former UFC lightweight interim champion Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) was slated to face arch rival Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 223 in April 2018. However just a week before the fight, Ferguson suffered a knee injury which forced him to pull out of the fight.
This led to frustration in the MMA community as this was the fourth time the bout was cancelled. Khabib Nurmagomedov went on to run through late replacement Al Iaquinta to become the UFC undisputed lightweight champion. UFC President Dana White has stated that Ferguson’s interim title is no more, which Ferguson strongly disagrees with.
“The doctor told me recovery time is anywhere from three to six months with this kind of procedure, but I heal quick,” Ferguson told ESPN. “Whenever Khabib’s b—- ass comes back, that’s when I’ll be back. I’m thinking November.
“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.”
Another possibility Ferguson has in mind is former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. According to Ferguson if UFC decides to materialize a lightweight title fight that doesn’t involve him, it would be a huge financial loss for him as he supposed to receive a PPV bonus at UFC 223 as a champion.
“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.”
Ferguson concluded saying that he understands the promotional appeal between a Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor but also thinks that he’s done his job as a fighter and UFC should reward him for what he’s done.
“I thought Al Iaquinta did a great job at UFC 223, but Khabib is going to say he won the Super Bowl after he faced the third string?” he said. “No way, dude. So many people hold him up on a high horse, but I see his flaws. I wasn’t impressed with anything he did.
“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. I should still be the interim champion. In fact, I should be the champion and Khabib should be the interim champion.”
Ferguson is on a 10 fight winning streak with seven finishes.