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Tony Ferguson: Initial UFC negotiations for Khabib fight ‘about as smooth as a bumpy road‘

Former interim champion Tony Ferguson might be happy he’s finally facing Khabib Nurmagomedov, but the deal didn’t come together without some hiccups.

UFC 238: Ferguson v Cerrone Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

While the deal has been signed and the moves have been made for Tony Ferguson to finally get a crack at Khabib Nurmagomedov, the process to make it possible wasn’t the smoothest.

After signing a fight contract, Nurmagomedov and company shared a photo of their bout agreement on social media. It seemed like everything was a go to make this fight happen.

The only problem? This wasn’t finalized on Ferguson’s part.

Ferguson explained the ordeal on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show this week (transcription via MMA Junkie):

“The manner that they did it really wasn’t the way I wanted to go, so it made the week kind of unpleasant. It puts my fans through the freakin’ ringer, but they kept it lighthearted for me. It was about as smooth as a bumpy road, but we got to our destination, which was cool.”

This led Ferguson and his management to have a chat with UFC brass to address the matter and work out unspecified portions of the agreement. With a visit to the UFC’s Vegas office last Friday, things seemed to have been resolved quite amicably:

“The process wasn’t the way I envisioned it going,” Ferguson said. “That’s why I wanted to sit down with the UFC. It’s about time we actually started having conversations and me being a little more personable with the company. It went good. I can’t say that it went bad. It just took time and was a process. I’m just lucky I had my agents there who have my back, so it’s cool to have that.”

Tony went on to address the timing and date of the fight, as it’s pretty far from now:

“You’re going to have to ask the UFC (why the fight is in April),” Ferguson said. “Khabib is still on his world tour. He’s doing things, kissing babies and doing all that fun stuff. Who cares? You know who I am. You know I’m ready for February. I was ready to take another opponent if they were going to (expletive) pull some crazy stuff. But everything worked out. We’ve got until April. We’ve got plenty of time to train. We’ve got plenty of time to not get hurt, to be very smart and trust our teams and give the fans exactly what they (expletive) want.”

This may just be another case of the UFC using their hardball tactics to get a fighter to agree to a bout, or it could have been pressure from Khabib’s camp to get the ball rolling.

But in the meantime, we’re getting a fight between a former interim champion and the lineal champ, two powerhouses that have evolved greatly and are still at their peak. Can’t be mad at that at all. Let’s just hope that they stay in one piece and are able to make it to fight night well enough to give it everything they’ve got.

UFC 249 takes place on April 18th, live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.