Yet even though it was him who had to drop out of the bout with an injury this time, "El Cucuy" says he's peeved a little bit at Nurmagomedov for taking a fill-in fight against Darrell Horcher rather than accepting a postponement.
"The fight could have been saved, and moved to May 29 in Vegas," Ferguson said during an appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday. "Khabib was given that option, and the UFC even asked him about it. So for me, on my end, I was like look, man -- you've pulled out of this fight a couple of times already. I didn't know what injuries he had or how serious it was, I never asked those questions. I was just like, look, I'm going to try and move on. I'm going to try and figure this out while you heal.
"So I thought that maybe for instance that he might be like, cool, 'I'm not going to take an easy fight. I know we've both been training.' You saw on his Twitter where he said, 'now I know how you feel,' and I'm sure he does. But on May 29 he would have showed up. He would have got his show money, and I think I would have been more than prepared for it."
Ferguson had to withdraw from the fight less than two weeks out after discovering that he had fluid and blood in his lungs. He had persevered through training, but said he suffered shortness of breath, and that the pain was unbearable. He went to the emergency room to get a scan, where he was told he had a collapsed lung. He got second opinion, and was told he had a hemotoma on his lung.
Ferguson called the injury a "freak accident" that occurred in training, and he insisted he wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary from his usual methods. He said it wasn't career threatening, and that in fact he's already on the mend.
He was originally supposed to face Nurmagomedov at The Ultimate Fighter 22 finale in December, and that time it was Nurmagomedov who withdrew with an injury. Ferguson fought Edson Barboza instead, and won via memorable second-round submission (D'arce).
"Right now I'm starting to heal," he said. "I have good days and bad days. But I'm so determined for the May 29 fight. I was just kind of bummed that [Nurmagomedov] was given that option and he's taking a fight with a guy that has half of his fights and is making his UFC debut."
When asked if he'd been told that he and Nurmagomedov might still fight on May 29, should Nurmagomedov win his fight with Horcher and come out of it without injuries, Ferguson said he thinks the Dagestani fighter doesn't want to fight him.
"The dude doesn't want to talk about the future, yet he was talking about fighting RDA at UFC 200," he said. "The guy goes back and forth. He doesn't want to fight me. And his camp doesn't want to fight me. I'm a very intense person, but I think it's a little ridiculous. If he comes out of this fight unscathed, and [May 29] is before his holiday, I'm down for it man. I haven't been eating sh*tty, I've been eating good. I've been focusing on everything, I've been watching film."
The 32-year old Ferguson has won seven straight fights in the lightweight division, and a win over Nurmagomedov would have sky-rocked him as the next contender for a title show. Now he's going to have to see how things play out.
"It's kind of a bummer [Nurmagomedov] didn't take the fight, but I know he doesn't want to think beyond [Horcher]," he said. "But I'm on his mind. And I know he had a big sigh of relief after he heard that I wasn't going to be able to take the fight."