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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov calls out Tony Ferguson for interim lightweight title fight in March

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UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov calls out Tony Ferguson saying this is a "real high level lightweight" and Conor McGregor isn't.

esther lin

For a while now, Khabib Nurmagomedov has been in an interesting situation with the UFC, believing himself deserving of a title shot but not receiving one. Then before UFC 205, he was given multiple contracts to face Eddie Alvarez but was passed over for a superfight between Alvarez and former (then) featherweight champion Conor McGregor. In the aftermath, Nurmagomedov accepted a fight against Michael Johnson at 205 and insisted his next fight must be for the title or he would leave the UFC.

Well now it looks like he doesn't doesn't need it to be for the title so long as it's for a title. Speaking recently with RT Sport, Nurmagomedov discussed McGregor's impending time off for the birth of his first child and what he wants to do next.

"I feel very bad about this because before this year I have two years rest because I have injured all the time. Now I don't want [to be] waiting for this guy. If Conor don't want fight before May/June, I want to take other fight. I want to fight for the interim belt with Tony Ferguson.

"Last time he was injured. He pulled out, not me. He's not coming to April 16 to the fight. Before I have been injured and now it's, why not? Now, I think the UFC wants to make this fight. I feel this and for me its perfect date is March. Not early, only March."

Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been scheduled to face each other twice before but both fights were derailed by injuries. In December of last year, Nurmagomedov withdrew from their scheduled bout at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 22, and then in April, Ferguson was forced out of their fight at UFC on FOX 19. Instead, Nurmagomedov beat promotional newcomer Darrell Horcher and Ferguson most recently fought and defeated former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Both men have cemented themselves as the most deserving challengers for McGregor's lightweight title. With McGregor's planned shelf time, having the two sit out and wait, especially given the rumors of McGregor jumping up to challenge welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, would only keep the logjam alive.

As far as the actual fight goes, Nurmgomedov seems to believe this interim title fight would be more challenging than an actual one. When asked about his opinion on Ferguson, Nurmagomedov was complimentary before ending by taking a shot at the current lightweight champion.

"Tony Ferguson is tough guy, tough opponent. Nine-win streak. Why not? I think this is real high level lightweight fight. Not Conor versus me I think this is real high level fight."

With the UFC recently showing a willingness to create more interim title by announcing that Anthony Pettis and Max Holloway would be fighting for the UFC interim featherweight title despite McGregor wanting to keep his featherweight championship, and Jose Aldo winning an interim title back at UFC 200, maybe Nurmagomedov will indeed get his wish.

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MUST-READ STORIES

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Let it go. Conor McGregor has relinquished his featherweight championship; Jose Aldo is new champion.

Interimception. Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis has been promoted to UFC 206 main event and is for interim title.

Belief. John Kavanagh calls Conor McGregor beating Tyron Woodley, "doable."

Hang em up. Big Nog says it's time for Fedor Emelianenko to retire.

Virtually identical. Gabi Garcia will fight a 52-year-old judoka at the next RIZIN event.

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MEDIA STEW

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One of the best rounds of the year.

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Fan Q and A from the weekend.

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Chael on Kelvin.

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The Menace tries to break his own world record.

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Mickey Gall on Punk.

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LISTEN UP

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6th Round.

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Parting Shot.

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TWEETS

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Fun fight though.

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Vince reclaiming his walk.

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Cody and Dom got into it over the weekend.

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New friends.

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PMP talking trash.

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Best wishes.

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Fun fight.

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A photo posted by Tim Kennedy (@timkennedymma) on 

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Tim Kennedy (18-5) v. Kelvin Gastelum (12-2-0)UFC 206, December 10.

Wilson Reis (21-6) vs. Ulka Sasaki (19-3-2)UFC 208, January 21.

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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

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2015: Ben Henderson won a split decision over Jorge Masvidal at UFC Fight Night 79.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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Crazy fact of the day: Jose Aldo has never won an undisputed championship, only defended it. He was inaugurated the UFC featherweight champion when the WEC merged the first time and now he was promoted from the interim champion. Weird as hell.

And we're back folks. Hope your weekends were good and see y'all tomorrow.

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If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.