If things had gone just a little bit differently, Tony Ferguson could be the interim UFC lightweight champion right now. Unfortunately, his planned UFC 209 interim title fight with fellow contender Khabib Nurmagomedov was scrapped at the last minute, which deprived him of the opportunity to vie for UFC gold.
Now more than a week removed from this disappointing twist, Ferguson has shifted his gaze to the future, and he’s not sure Nurmagomedov is part of that future for him. While there has been widespread discussion about rescheduling this Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov bout, Ferguson is instead interested in a fight with fan favorite Nate Diaz.
“I’m just throwing a name out there, but I think Nate Diaz and myself could actually put on a good show,” Ferguson told host Ariel Helwani on the show. “I think his ranking is kind of bullshit too, but I don’t really see anybody else. I mean, Edson Barboza called me out, but it is what it is. Everything’s in the air right now. I want to fight for the title. I want a fair fight, I want to go in there and kick this dude’s ass no matter who’s signed to the dotted line, and f*cking move on. And kick Conor’s ass. I don’t know what he’s up to, but lets just go.”
Ferguson then elaborated on the reasons for this callout of Diaz, explaining that he respects Diaz’s skills, and that this option makes more sense to him than fights with contenders like Edson Barboza and Michael Chiesa.
“Just because [Nate’s] a decent striker, I mean, I haven’t had a knockout in a long time,” he said. “Not trying to call out my shot for a knockout, but I think my boxing’s a little bit better than his. It is what it is, I think my stand-up is a lot better, but this is not a boxing match, it’s MMA. And I’m just starting to mix it up with some takedowns and cool stuff.”
“For an opponent, let’s just say I want to fight Edson Barboza again, let’s just say something like that, what is that going to do for me?” he said. “Absolutely nothing. Michael Johnson, possibly. Possibly. But I’m not going that far down the rankings. The purpose is I worked my ass off. I need to do something about that belt. Lets get that belt and keep moving up these ranks.”
“Okay, what about Chiesa?” he said. “He called me out too, he backed out of that fight too that I took in South Dakota. I just don’t see that fight doing anything for me. Nate’s one of those dudes that I think honestly could challenge my talents right now. I mean, he’s a good fighter man. Black belt level jiu-jitsu, respect that.”
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This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/14/2017.