Khabib wants Tony, not Conor.
The undefeated Russian feels like he has unfinished business with the new interim champion and feels like he owes it to the fans.
Seemingly fully recovered from his recent weight-cutting issues, Khabib Nurmagomedov appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour and has claimed that there is an ‘80%’ chance that he will return before the turn of the year. The #2 rank lightweight is eyeing up a hugely overdue match-up with new interim champion, Tony Ferguson as oppose to The Notorious One. And he wants that match at UFC 219 in Las Vegas on December 30.
“We have 12 weeks before UFC 219” Nurmagomedov said on The MMA Hour. “This is the beginning of a very interesting time in my life. I hope the UFC gives me a championship fight. End of the year, I want to take everything back. Attention, belts, I want to take everything. End of the year, I want to fix everything. We’ll see what happens. But first of all, I think the UFC has to make Conor versus Nate (Diaz) 3, and after that, me versus Tony.
“In my opinion, Tony Ferguson is the real champion. Conor’s the official champion, but he’s not the people’s champion. People want to see me versus Tony Ferguson. I think this is a much better fight.”
“In my opinion, I have to fight with Tony,” Nurmagomedov said. “All of my fans, everybody wants this fight.”
For Nurmagomedov, the decision to chase Ferguson over McGregor is a personal one.
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been scheduled to fight on three separate occasions in the last two years, however each of those have fallen through. The most notable of those cancellations was in March at UFC 209 where their fight was cancelled the day before it was set to take place after the Russian was rushed to hospital due to problems with the weight cut.
The undefeated top contender is confident that all of that is now behind him and says he feels 100% for the first time since his victory over Rafael dos Anjos in 2014.
There is no denying that Nurmagomedov is one of the biggest threats in the lightweight division. The Eagle currently boasts a perfect 24-0 record with eight of those victories in the UFC. He most recently dealt a one-sided beating to Michael Johnson last November at UFC 205 where he eventually secured a third round submission victory through way of a kimura.
Although it appears that the new interim champion has moved on from Nurmagomedov and switched his attention to a unification bout with Conor McGregor, The Eagle is confident that he will get what he wants. He thinks Ferguson will have little say in the matter if indeed McGregor decides to opt to face Diaz to complete their trilogy.
“I don’t think he has a say in the matter.” Nurmagomedov said. “What happens if the UFC say to him, ‘Hey, Conor is going to fight Nate. You have to fight Khabib.’ What happens then? He has to take this fight.”
“I want to send Tony a message. Enjoy the belt. You deserve it, 10 fight win streak. In my opinion, you’re the real champ, and you have to fight me. We have to fight for the fans. I am ready, I am healthy. Last time, I made the mistake. That was my fault. I know this. But you’ve pulled out before too. You have to remember this. See you at the end of the year.”