It should come as no surprise that the man who wrestles bears will brook no insult from humans.
No. 1 lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to fight No. 2 contender Tony Ferguson for the UFC interim lightweight championship on March 4 at UFC 209. The bout is the culmination of an 18-month square off between the two which has been contentious and heated at times. And though with a belt on the line, Nurmagomedov doesn’t need extra motivation as the fight nears closer he’s declared his intent to make a statement against Ferguson.
Speaking with FOX Sports recently, Nurmagomedov says he wants to hurt Ferguson in their fight because of the lack of respect Ferguson has shown him over the past year and, given the chance, Nurmagomedov says he will snap Ferguson’s arm a la Frank Mir.
“If you watch when I fight dos Anjos, Michael Johnson, Darrel Horcher, these guys are my opponents but he’s a little bit different than other guys. I want to break his face because I want to teach him respect. When I fought with Michael Johnson, when I took his arm for the kimura, I can break it but I go very slowly, be careful because I don’t want to give him injury. Because I understand [the] fight was finished. I need only to go a little bit slowly and he tapped.
“If Tony Ferguson gives me this arm, I’m going to break his arm like Frank Mir- [Antonio Rodrigo] Nogueira.”
This fight is quite possibly the most hotly anticipated contest of the year. Nurmagomedov is an undefeated fighter who has gone 8-0 in the UFC. Ferguson is 22-3 and currently riding a nine-fight win streak with a total UFC record of 12-1. It’s the first time in UFC history two fighters with such gaudy records will face each other and the winner will likely face lightweight champion Conor McGregor later this year.
Nurmagomedov knows all this and despite his ill will towards Ferguson, respects his opponent’s accomplishments in the cage. After all, it was Nurmagomedov who insisted on this fight despite being offered an interim title fight against featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Nurmagomedov passed on Aldo saying he had to fight Ferguson for the fans and because Ferguson is the “strongest opponent” in the division, something he still believes.
“Yes he’s an impressive fighter. He all the time fights, UFC gives him ‘Performance of the Night’ but he never fights with fighters like me. He all the time fights with striking guys like dos Anjos, Josh Thomson, [Edson] Barboza, these guys are all striking guys. I am completely different fighter. He has to stay ready because I’m going to do what I do all my life, all my career. I’m going to do.
“He has to change something. Because he has to work takedown defense, he has to work to get up, he has to work to defend my ground and pound. He never had to do this — now he has to do this. Because if you don’t do this, I’m going to break his face, finish him maybe a kimura, break his arm so he has to stay ready.”
Though McGregor is the lightweight champion, he received his title shot without having to work his way through the crucible that is 155 pounds and as such only has a 1-0 record at lightweight in the UFC. The winner of Nurmagomedov-Ferguson has a very credible claim to being the best lightweight on the planet and, depending on McGregor’s next flight of fancy (boxing Floyd Mayweather Jr. or challenging Tyron Woodley), might possibly get promoted to undisputed champion without ever facing McGregor anyway. But Nurmagomedov hopes not. He wants to finish both Ferguson and McGregor and establish himself as the best fighter on the planet.
“I have fight March 4, I’m going to take this belt. After March 4, fight with Conor, finish both of them and you can’t become like this. I have. 26-0, 10-0 in the UFC, UFC lightweight undisputed, undefeated champion. This is crazy but I can do this.”
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@rizin_STAFF I spoke with one of your organizers, I'm offering to fight Kron for free in MMA. I'll give up my purse to him or your event.— Garry Tonon (@Garry_Tonon) January 24, 2017
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Wait when did I call you out???? I've been giving you nothing but respect. https://t.co/l4dLUi59NX— Tito Ortiz (@titoortiz) January 23, 2017
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This shit basically writes itself. Here's a list of people who think Bethe is the best:— Lauren Murphy (@LaurenMurphyMMA) January 24, 2017
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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2013: Ben Askren TKOed Karl Amoussou to retain his welterweight championship at Bellator 86. This event also featured the Bellator debut of Muhammed Lawal who stopped Przemyslaw Mysiala with punches in the first round.
The winner of Khabib-Ferguson is definitely my pick for best lightweight on the planet and either one makes a compelling fight with Conor. The winner Conor vs. Khabib/Ferguson is the P4P best fighter on the planet.
Take it easy y’all. Until tomorrow.
*I was informed by the masses that I’d been had by a parody account of Tyron Woodley being retweeted so I removed the tweet.
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