Coach Javier Mendez isn’t usually one for superstitions, but the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) head is starting to think Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is legitimately cursed.
Khabib-Ferguson has been cancelled on five separate occasions now and, after the latest cancellation at UFC 249 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mendez would prefer their paths never cross again.
“Due to the fact that every time we’re supposed to fight Tony, look what happens. This time around, the pandemic,” Mendez told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in a recent interview (h/t Abhinav Kini of The Body Lock MMA). “Not that Tony created it but I’m just saying — five times, five misses? And I am kind of a little superstitious. So do I want to see a sixth fight? Not really.”
With that said, Mendez is open to a sixth matchup if ‘El Cucuy’ can rebound from his recent TKO loss to Justin Gaethje and reestablish himself as the No. 1 contender.
“But hey, if Tony gets a win and the UFC puts Tony against Khabib next if we’re successful with Justin, yeah. I mean you got to fight him. If the UFC says that’s who your next opponent is, then you have to fight him. And Tony would have deserved that. That’s how I feel about that,” Mendez said.
“Nothing against Tony. I think personally Tony screwed up in his last fight by overtraining, by cutting the weight,” he added. “He shouldn’t have done that. In this game, it’s a matter of inches.
“You cannot go out there and do that to prove a point... Which is a true warrior [move], but from the winning and losing perspective, that may not have been the wisest move.”
Khabib will collide with Gaethje in a lightweight title unification bout in the UFC 254 main event on October 24.