There’s no real solution to the two-champion situation in the near future, as McGregor hasn’t defended his title since winning it nearly 14 months ago and Ferguson is on the sidelines after elbow surgery.
But Khabib Nurmagomedov, who ran his record to 25-0 on Saturday night with a dominant victory over Edson Barboza at UFC 219, has proposed a novel solution to clear up the logjam atop the 155-pound division: He’ll fight them both in one night.
“Maybe, if UFC approve, I can fight with these guys same night,” Nurmagomedov said during the post-fight press conference at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. “I swear, I don’t joke. If UFC makes this, I can fight same night. I can fight with this guy same fight. Why not? Right now I’m fresh, I fight with Edson Barboza 15 minutes. You know?”
The chances of this being approved, of course, are slim to none. But Nurmagomedov was making a point.
The Daegestan native has only been slowed in his career by injuries and a weight-cut mishap, and while during periods he’s been down, he’s noticed McGregor and Ferguson have taken jabs at them.
Nurmagmedov says he minds his own business, and suggest the others do the same.
“Maybe I have to stay humble, but I have to smash these guys, give a little back, because these guys talk too much when I’m injured,” Nurmagomedov said. “I don’t want to be injured, I don’t want to go to hospital and make surgery ... but sometimes it happens. When somebody is injured, you cannot talk sh*t about this. You have to stay humble, you have to stay focused on your job. But these guys talk about when I’m injured. Now, where is these guys?”
In Nurmagomedov’s opinion, the interim belt won by Ferguson, who has won nine straight fights in the division, carries more weight with him than McGregor’s belt.
“Real belt is 25-0,” Nurmagomedov said. “This is real belt. They’re all fake belts. To be honest, real belt is Tony Ferguson. Conor, he has only one fight in UFC at 155 and he have champion. He beat Eddie Alvarez. He’s good fighter, but he’s not champ. I think lot of people can beat him in 155. This is my opinion. I think lot of people can beat him at 155. He has good boxing, good timing, but he don’t have wrestling, he don’t have grappling, he don’t have conditioning, but he have a belt.”
If McGregor was to face Nurmagomedov, the Russian does concede he’d have a chance early because of his striking. But he doesn’t like McGregor’s chances from there.
“If I fight with Conor, his chance is with boxing, maybe couple minutes I think,” Nurmagomedov said. “But worry if I’m wrestling with him all the time. Don’t striking with him. Protect myself, movement, change angles. Show him takedown, box, change levels like Cain Velasquez does. But we have lot of way. I can stay with my opponent, I can grappling with my opponent, my conditioning is better my wrestling is good.”