Khabib Nurmagomedov is coming off a third round submission victory over the #7 ranked lightweight Michael Johnson at UFC 205. This victory has cemented his status as the #1 contender in the lightweight division and next in line for a date with Conor McGregor. With McGregor on a leave of absence Nurmagomedov has his sights set on an interim title bout with the #2 ranked lightweight Tony Ferguson who is riding a ridiculous 9 fight win streak. Negotiations between the UFC brass and Ferguson recently stalled and at one point featherweight champion Jose Aldo was offered to Nurmagomedov. Khabib recently took to Instagram to voice his opinion where he stated that he would only face Ferguson and no one else. In the new UFC where opponents can talk themselves into a title fight it was refreshing to see Nurmagomedov give the interim title shot to the man who actually deserved it.
Ferguson replied to Nurmagomedov’s Instagram post saying “I want this fight, but won’t take peanuts.” If you look at Ferguson’s resume its hard not to agree with him. He has compiled a 9 fight win streak in the most talent stacked division and is coming off of his third straight fight of the night bonus. The UFC does not want to offer Ferguson the money he deserves presumably because the casual fan does not know who he is. Although this is partially Ferguson’s fault for not promoting himself the fault largely lies in the hands of the UFC. Nurmagomedov said it all in his post-fight speech at UFC 205 when he said he understands how crazy the UFC PR machine is. I have no idea why the UFC is refusing to promote its most exciting fighters. They would rather promote amateurs like Sage Northcutt and Paige VanZant than the likes of Nurmagomedov, Ferguson, and Nate Diaz. The UFC must have some kind of agenda they want to uphold because their promotion of fighters is absolutely unfair.
I have so much respect for fighters like Nurmagomedov, Ferguson, and Diaz standing up to the establishment. Nurmagomedov could have made more money with the more popular Jose Aldo who has never fought at lightweight in his life. Instead he is honoring his commitment with Ferguson who he believes truly deserves his shot at the interim belt. Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were scheduled to fight twice in the past year but both had to pull out at different times due to injury. Since they both went their separate ways Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have established themselves as the two top contenders in the lightweight division. Nurmagomedov went on to say in his post that he needs to fight with Ferguson because if he doesn’t he will never gain the respect of the fans. In a UFC that has become more entertainment than sport it is important to recognize fighters like Nurmagomedov who are standing up for the real fighters.
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