If things had gone according to the initial plan, Tony Ferguson would have battled Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 223. Regrettably, Ferguson sustained a knee injury just six days before the April 7 bout, and was forced out of the fight as a result. Nurmagomedov then defeated late-replacement Al Iaquinta to earn the lightweight belt, while Ferguson headed to the operating room for knee surgery.
With his surgery in the rear-view, Ferguson is hoping for a quick and uncomplicated recovery.
“The doctor told me recovery time is anywhere from three to six months with this kind of procedure, but I heal quick,” he told ESPN this week before offering a timeframe for his return. “Whenever Khabib’s bitch ass comes back, that’s when I’ll be back. I’m thinking November.”
When Nurmagomedov claimed the UFC lightweight title at UFC 223, Ferguson was simultaneously stripped of the interim lightweight title he owned at the time. As far as he’s considered, however, he’s still a champion — and the undisputed champion, at that.
“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,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m still the true 155-pound champion. I never lost my belt.”
Needless to say, Ferguson expects a title fight with Nurmagomedov when he’s healthy, and he’s hoping the UFC won’t add to his recent run of bad luck by denying him that opportunity.
“That’s a big middle finger to ‘T-Ferg’ right there — that’s a kick to the groin if they do that,” Ferguson said, discussing the possibility of the UFC denying his claim to a title shot. “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,” he added. “They have to either give me my title back or make sure I’m fighting under that same contract. I’ve earned that.”
Do you think Tony Ferguson deserves an immediate title shot upon his return?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/15/2018.