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Manager: Tony Ferguson targeting May return after healing 'freak' lung injury

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LOS ANGELES -- Tony Ferguson is going to be OK.

The UFC lightweight contender tweeted Tuesday night that blood in his lungs led to him pulling out of the UFC on FOX 19 main event against Khabib Nurmagomedov. While many fans were concerned with his well-being after the scary post, Ferguson's manager Audie Attar of Paradigm Sports Management said Ferguson should be able to return to the Octagon by late May.

Attar said Ferguson's injury came from training and it was a "freak" thing, but not as serious as it sounds.

"You can either get it from something physical or respiratory infections," Attar told MMA Fighting at a UFC 199 media day Wednesday in Downtown LA. "It sounds scary, but it's not like, 'Whoa, you've gotta stop fighting, this is detrimental to your long-term health.'"

Ferguson (20-3), who has won seven in a row and nearing a title shot, still wants to fight Nurmagomedov and he's hoping to do at UFC Fight Night 88 on May 29 in Las Vegas.

"I think it makes the most sense for Khabib to wait," Attar said. "I understand he hasn't fought in a while, so there's economic pressure on him. I respect that. If it was like months, I would say that would be a decisive factor."

The original fight was scheduled for April 16 in Tampa. Nurmagomedov (22-0) has not fought since April 2014 due to a series of knee injuries.

"[Ferguson] understands that he's waited this long already," Attar said. "He's empathetic to that as well as a fighter, no matter the rivalry."

As for "El Cucuy," this was his first time pulling out of a fight due to injury. Ferguson wanted to fight through it, but, after speaking with his team, understood that a lung injury is not something to mess around with. Attar said that doctors have told Ferguson that he is likely to heal more quickly than most due to being an elite-level athlete.

"It was a freak accident," Attar said "Tony trains intelligently. He's smart; he doesn't overtrain. He actually thinks about training, from what I've seen, as more of modern mixed martial artist approach, conscious of wear and tear."

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