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Morning Report: Tony Ferguson calls Conor McGregor a 'paper champ,' wants to coach TUF against Khabib Nurmagomedov

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A year ago this week, Khabib Nurmagomedov was supposed to fight Tony Ferguson at the Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale, but Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw from the bout due to injury. The fight was rescheduled to April of this year but again fell through, this time when Ferguson pulled out with a lung issue. Well now it seems like all the stars are finally aligning to make the fight happen.

In a recent interview with Submission Radio, Ferguson spoke about the current lightweight title situation, how he and Nurmagomedov fit into the picture, and the champion, Conor McGregor.

"This guy's picking his opponents. He's a paper champ. When you're doing that, of course you're going to be watching who you're fighting...I can't really see Conor as the champion. I see right now as if the title was open. Conor's taking a step off and I don't even like to throw his name in because the dude fought one person at 155. I've been sitting here and Khabib, he's been kind of inactive. I've been the most active in this damn place... I'm racking up points here, that's all that matters. I'm gonna go down in the books as a living legend. That's what's gonna happen, I'm gonna be in the UFC Hall of Fame."

McGregor won the UFC lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November and immediately afterwards announced he would be taking some time off to welcome the birth of his first child early next year. That same night, Nurmagomedov put on an impressive showing, submitting Michael Johnson in the third round to stake his own claim for a lightweight title shot and calling McGregor a "chicken." However, with the champion set to take ten months off, Nurmagomedov later shifted to pursuing an interim title fight with Ferguson and now it seems that Ferguson also wants that but with an additional caveat.

"It's what the fans want. The fans want the fight. People are blowing it up. They know Conor's out. They know Khabib needs a fight. They know that Khabib and I were supposed to fight in January but that dude backed out. He had some boo boos he had to take care of. That's okay, go back to AKA and heal your boo boos with Daniel Cormier...

"I'm ready to sign on the dotted line and I think the UFC knows that. And I think it needs to be for that belt. I don't think, it needs to be for that belt, damn it. Straight up, I've been putting in my time, I've been putting in my numbers. This is my time. Let's get some heat going for this thing. Let's do this for The Ultimate Fighter. We can do Team Khabib versus Team Ferguson, that'd be dope.

"Let's just throw it up for an interim belt. If he's gonna take a step out for a while then they need to throw an interim belt out there, have a champ out there and when he comes back he can be ready for that ass whooping which will be me."

If the UFC did opt to pursue this route, the timelines would match up for a late summer or early fall title unification bout between McGregor and the new interim title holder. But however the interim title match goes, Ferguson feels confident that the winner of that bout is truly the best lightweight on Earth.

"Conor is no threat to what myself of Khabib has. I see no threat in this dude. This dude is just a lot of talk. He has a nice left hand but my solid, straight right and my left hook and my lead uppercut and my inside leg kicks and my whole repertoire is better than what he's got...

"When you put Conor up against a guy like me who's unpredictable - attacking your ankles, attacking your chin and your midsection - and you've got Khabib Nurmagomedov who can take a punch here or there and he's got some time off so he's got full rest recovery in his body, he's gonna be able to take the punishment."

Either way it would be one heck of a lightweight matchup.

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MUST-READ STORIES

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206 results. Max Holloway won a title and all the other UFC 206 results are available here.

SUG2. Jon Jones tapped Hendo and the other results from Submission Underground 2 are here.

Where's Waldo? Max Holloway is still skeptical that Jose Aldo will actually fight him.

Steak and eggs. Anthony Pettis is heading back to lightweight after his loss at UFC 206.

No bonus. Donald Cerrone says his meeting with Dana White about the MMAAA went "very well."

Top 5. Kelvin Gastelum still thinks welterweight is his optimal division.

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MEDIA STEW

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Ariel and Chuck on the post-show.

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Rousey-Tate free fight.

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RFA 46 highlights. Last one ever.

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The most popular man in boxing.

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LISTEN UP

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Parting Shot.

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Me and Nick chop it up about 206.

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TWEETS

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Nah man, thank you.

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Upside down paper....

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Classy.

A photo posted by Donald Cerrone (@cowboycerrone) on 

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Elias Theodorou (12-1) vs. Cezar Ferreira (11-5); UFC Fight Night Halifax, February 19.

Thiago Santos (13-5) vs. Jack Marshman (21-5); UFC Fight Night Halifax, February 19.

Alessandro Ricci (10-4) vs. Alvaro Herrera (9-4); UFC Fight Night Halifax, February 19.

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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

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2007: Chael Sonnen "did not tap out" to Paulo Filho at WEC 31. In the main event that evening, Urijah Faber submitted Jeff Curran with a guilllotine choke to retain the WEC featherweight title.

2009: B.J. Penn became the first man to stop Diego Sanchez, earning a TKO victory from a cut caused by a head kick in the fifth round of the main event at UFC 107.

2014: Carla Esparza was crowned the inaugural UFC women's strawweight champion by submitting Rose Namajunas with a third round rear-naked choke at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale.

2015: Conor McGregor became the UFC featherweight champion, knocking out Jose Aldo in thirteen seconds at UFC 194. In the co-main event, Luke Rockhold became the UFC middleweight champion, stopping Chris Weidman with strikes in the fourth round.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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UFC 206 was one hell of an event. Cerrone got robbed not getting a POTN bonus for that headkick though.

Back at it again, y'all. Have a good one.

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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.