While Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will meet in the Octagon at UFC 209 to fight for the interim UFC lightweight championship, it took quite a bit of time for the fight to be made official.
After Conor McGregor captured the lightweight championship by knocking out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in New York in November, the UFC superstar revealed that he would be taking some time away from the Octagon in order to be with his girlfriend leading up to the birth of their firstborn child in May. This led to talks of an interim lightweight title, with undefeated Dagestani fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov and streaking 10th Planet JiuJitsu lightweight Tony Ferguson being mentioned as the two combatants.
While it appeared as though the fight wouldn’t be booked, the UFC brass was ultimately able to finalize a deal after Ferguson initially stated that he planned to hold out for more money from the promotion. In a recent interview with MMAJunkie, he spoke about how the fight was finalized, saying:
“They met my standards,” Ferguson told MMAjunkie Radio. “Khabib’s offer I threw right out the window immediately. That was some trashy kind of thing. But we’re good to good. We’re full swing ahead. … We worked out financial terms. I’ve earned my stripes in this division. I’ve put in my time. I’ve put in my work. I’ve put in my effort, especially when no fans were watching when I didn’t have cameras on me.
“I don’t need anybody to believe in me besides myself, because every single day I go in there and I beat myself up that was so I can go out there and I can kick some ass. I know what I’m worth and I know my numbers, and that dude’s padded record is nowhere near my contention, my type of fights that I’ve had and presented to the world.”
“This dude has never wrestled with a California grizzly,” Ferguson said. “I’m going to come at this dude hard. I don’t know what kind of bears they have in Dagestan. I’ve said it before: I don’t care how many steaks your parents put around your neck to get the animals to play with you. I’ve been roughing it since I was little. This is a hype train I’m going to love to derail.
“I’m a whole completely different animal, and he’s never seen anyone as ferocious as me inside that octagon. I’m going to put fear in this kid. I can’t wait to slam this dude. I can’t wait to mop the map with this guy.”