With champion Conor McGregor currently enjoying a break from competition, the biggest story in the lightweight division is the ongoing rivalry between top contenders Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, and their long-rumored interim title fight.
Unfortunately, negotiations for this highly hyped showdown have recently reached a standstill, as Ferguson has said he won’t accept the fight if he’s paid any less than Nurmagomedov is.
On Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour, Ferguson clarified his position on the bout. The streaking lightweight reiterated that when the fight was being worked on for a January date in Anaheim, he was all for it. When Nurmagomedov turned the fight down, however, he lost interest.
“I was offered a fight with him in January,” Ferguson said. “I got a nice phone call and I was willing to do it. I looked at my wife and I was like ‘let’s do this.’ I was like ‘I’ve been training in Big Bear, I’ve got a couple booboos, but I think I can still take this dude. Let’s make a show in Anaheim, let’s get some popularity and some viewers and some people so we can get some hype behind me, so we can actually make this thing really big or something like that.”
“It didn’t work out,” he continued. “I was pretty pissed off, because I had to do some thinking about it and I had to get myself going for it.”
“I was gung-ho for January. When he didn’t sign on the dotted line, because he had to many booboos or he didn’t want to do it in my home town, I was like ‘whatever, alright, cool. I’m going to take a little break, I’m going to see what’s up. I’m going to take some family time’.”
More recently the fight has been rumored for a March date in Las Vegas. According to Ferguson, however, it will take a substantial pay boost to get him interested again. Given that Ferguson has a set rate under his current contract, this ask might seem a bit unreasonable, but as he pointed out on the MMA hour, contracts are renegotiated mid-term all the time – most recently in the case of Ronda Rousey’s UFC 207 bout with Amanda Nunes.
“I have a contract but I’ve outperformed that contract,” he said. “It is what is. I want equal terms, dude. I want to be compensated for this particular bout.”
“The UFC has a long history of changing a fighter’s compensation for a particular bout. We just saw this in particular for UFC 207 with Ronda [Rousey]. There’s always changes that are always being made as far as contracts.”
“The UFC has been known to change things over their history, and I’m just looking for them to get this thing going, man. Let’s go. Let’s go UFC.”
Do you think it’s fair of Tony Ferguson to ask for more money to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov? Sound off, PENN Nation!