Things kicked off yesterday at the UFC 249 pre-fight press conference in Las Vegas, where pay-per-view headliners Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson came face-to-face for the first time since their lightweight title bout was announced last year.
After a heated back-and-forth on the main stage, Khabib proceeded to kick Ferguson’s interim belt during the staredown, and the reigning lightweight champ admitted later on that the situation was a little more tense than he expected.
Speaking to ESPN (h/t BJPenn.com) following the press conference, Nurmagomedov explained why he kicked Ferguson’s belt.
“Honestly, when I go to the press conference I think I want to be nice. You know I don’t want to go crazy. You know? But, when he talk about street fight, I go a little bit… A little bit crazy, yes.” Khabib Nurmagomedov explained. “Because this guy never fight in street. What are you talking about? Who? You know, I have a lot of fight in street. This guy never fight. Because in America, you cannot fight in street. But I grew up in Dagestan, everyday I fight in the street. You talk about street fight?”
Khabib kicks Tony’s belt pic.twitter.com/ubxtx3WuNI— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 6, 2020
“Because people don’t understand. Maybe people think I am like him from America. But I am not from America. You know? I am from Dagestan and we fight all the time here. Like in school, like in everywhere. Gym. Like I have a lot of fights in street and when he talk about street fight, I no understand. This guy never fight in street.”
Expect tensions to rise in the final month leading up to UFC 249, where both men will meet in the main event at Barclays Center on April 18.