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Tony Ferguson ready for title contention, wants Eddie Alvarez or Khabib Nurmagomedov

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3-ranked UFC lightweight Tony Ferguson found himself in trouble Wednesday night against promotional newcomer Lando Vannata.

Ferguson was originally scheduled to fight top-10 lightweight Michael Chiesa in the main event of UFC Fight Night 91, but after Chiesa pulled out of the fight due to injury, Ferguson accepted a short-notice fight with JacksonWink fighter Vannata.

Despite fighting an unranked fighter, Ferguson looked in trouble early in the fight, as he was wobbled several times by Vannata. "El Cucuy" survived Vannata's attacks and was able to finish the undefeated fighter with his signature move: the D'arce choke. After his victory, Ferguson went on the Fox Sports 1 post-fight show to talk about his wild fight and his future.

"We were preparing for Michael Chiesa," Ferguson said. "So, I think if anything, I was just more prepared for a wrestler and I underestimated his [Vannata] standup, but after just getting hit a couple of times, it's exactly what I wanted and that's just the type of fighter I am, and I battled through it, and took some of his hardest shots, and put fear in his face."

Ferguson acknowledges he took many "unnecessary shots," but says it wasn't anything he's unfamiliar with. Despite finding himself in trouble early in the fight, the 32-year-old lightweight believes that his performance against Vannata puts him in title contention.

"All my performances are right there to put me on title contention," said Ferguson. "This fight was a short-notice fight. I know he wasn't ranked, but it was a very risky chance to come in there and take the short-notice fight. Props to Lando Vannata and props to JacksonWink over in Albuquerque, but every single fight is there and I'm ready for it. If Eddie Alvarez wants to sign that dotted line, or if he wants an easy fight, go ahead and fight Conor [McGregor], but I'm a hard type fight. I'm not someone to joke around with. And with [Rafael dos Anjos], you have Khabib Nurmagomedov. I'd love to get that fight against Khabib and maybe we'll go on The Ultimate Fighter show and put on a show for the fans."

Alvarez and Nurmagomedov currently don't have any fights booked. Alvarez recently became the UFC lightweight champion, defeating dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 90, while Nurmagomedov recently returned to MMA competition after a series of injuries, defeating Darrel Horcher back in April.