Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson will go down in UFC history as one of the greatest fights that never happened. Though, the promotion tried mightily to make sure that wasn’t the case.
The bout was booked five times, but various issues waylaid those plans. There was Nurmagomedov allegedly getting sick from tiramisu the day before weigh-ins, Ferguson injuring his knee by tripping over TV cables and then, finally, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite these two never actually fighting, that hasn’t stopped a war or words between them continuing on through the years. Ferguson still maligns Nurmagomedov online, accusing him of ‘running’ from him.
Recently, some of Nurmagomedov’s words about Ferugson—from his little publicized 2019 autobiography KHABIBTIME—have gotten some attention (ht MMA Mania).
In those passages, shared by @SmeshJitsuOnly online, Nurmagomedov is unabashed in his criticism for Ferguson. In these passages, Nurmagomedov paints a smug, self-superior picture of himself while lambasting Ferguson’s character, attitude and upbringing.
Check it out:
“Sometimes I felt certain gratitude towards the guy. I have already written that my desire to return after three of severe injuries and having almost decided to end my career was ignited because of my overwhelming impulse to meet El Cucuy and punch him on the head so that he would look at life differently.
That was the way it was. The possibility of finally silencing this poorly brought up dude became one of the main reasons for my returning to the cage.
I have a set of emotions towards this guy like those that would flood the streets of Makhachkala at the age of sixteen or twenty, when I saw in front of me an impudent lout who was boasting how strong he was.
I never had missed the opportunity to thrash such a smartass and at the same time to check which of his claims about his abilities was true. So I looked at Ferguson and continue to do so with eyes full of sarcasm and anger.
I assure you that my attitude promised nothing good for Tony.”
“Work on the preparation for the fight was as usual, occasionally interrupted by laughter and irony about Tony’s latest attack on me in the media. And in fact, it was funny to watch an opponent trying to unsteady you mentally, without even realizing that the methods he used were like a little tickle. Everything went as per usual.
For some reason, he was abusive from the very beginning of our interaction, not being embarrassed at all with the expressions he used. I quickly realized that it was a way of asserting himself. What for? I could not understand it. Yes, of course, what is called trash talk is an aspect of the to and fro at the UFC, but Ferguson immediately began to transgress all reasonable boundaries. I myself like to tweet something against a future opponent of ‘experts’ on Twitter or Instagram posts, but what El Cucuy does can not be supported in any way. It is pure dirt. I gradually formed a particular contempt for Ferguson as a person. To be precise — as a person. I think it is wrong to treat him badly from a sporting point of view; he is a fine fighter, a winner, a champion in my division for a period and the possessor of one of the longest winning streaks in the UFC. He is definitely a great athlete. However, a completely mediocre upbringing and the behaviour it has generated makes him sometimes merely a nonentity.”
Unfortunately for Ferguson, he has seen his relevancy in the sport dwindle since the last and final time he was booked to appear opposite Nurmagomedov.
The pair were scheduled to meet at UFC 249, back when it was scheduled for April 18, 2020 at New York’s Barclays Center. However, while press for that big event was under way the world began to change in unexpected and dramatic ways.
The COVID-19 pandemic began to change our lives as we knew them around March 2020. That’s when, as numbers of cases and deaths terrifyingly rose across the world, international sports began to shut down and close its doors.
UFC 249 was moved back to May 9 and the UFC scrambled for a new location, with New York becoming one of the first US epicentres for the virus. The UFC picked Jacksonville, FL for the new venue and then scrambled to get fighters there to compete.
Ferguson was able to attend, but Nurmagomedov was locked down in Russia. So his spot went to Justin Gaethje. Gaethje proceeded to hand Ferguson the worst beating of El Cucy’s UFC career.
Since then Ferguson has lost one sided efforts to newly crowned lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush (last night at UFC 262).