UFC 209 was either going to be a breakout moment for Tony Ferguson or for Khabib Nurmagomedov, who were meeting for the interim lightweight title. Yet the reason there was an “interim” attached to the fight at all was because nobody is sure what happens to the lightweight champion Conor McGregor next.
The Irishman is in the process of trying to put together a mega crossover boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, a pursuit that has graduated from “unlikely to happen” to an “exploratory phase” in early 2017. Mayweather recently went on record saying he’d like to fight McGregor in June of this year. Complicating his return further, McGregor is going to be a father in May, and is taking time off to be with his girlfriend and help prepare for parenthood.
Should McGregor and Mayweather meet in the boxing ring, count Ferguson among those who doesn’t think he has a chance against the undefeated “Money” Mayweather (49-0). He said as much during an interview on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
“No way,” Ferguson said. “Floyd’s just a different animal.”
Ferguson was hoping that a victory over Nurmagomedov at UFC 209 would result in a unification bout with McGregor, which has the added bonus of becoming a colossal payday. Yet with Nurmagomedov fell ill during the eleventh hour of his weight cut and was forced to withdraw, Ferguson was left in limbo again. The fights that interest him the most are bouts against Nurmagomedov (which has been booked three times already), Nate Diaz (whom he called out on the show), and McGregor.
As for the latter, Ferguson doesn’t think McGregor is too interested in squaring off with him anytime soon.
“That dude doesn’t want to fight me directly,” he said.
“Conor knows exactly what he’s up against, and he knows I’m a force to be reckoned with. He can’t talk his way through this one. And the same thing with Nate. It’s a different scale with me.”
One way or another, after being booked for a title shot — interim or otherwise — Ferguson expects his next fight to carry the same import. He says he deserves to be in a title bout, and nothing less.
“Well, why not? I mean, literally I was just fighting for the [interim] belt,” he told Ariel Helwani. “I feel like I am a legit contender, I’ve got nine wins in a row, I’ve got X amount of performance [of the night] victories. Really, I’ve been putting in some work. I feel like I deserve it. What am I going to do. I’m just going to boom boom, banging through these dudes, man. And just keep knocking them out and finishing them. I’ve had it in my head I need a knockout. So if you guys want to see somebody get knocked out, let’s go.”
A fight between Ferguson and McGregor doesn’t seem imminent at the time. Yet if McGregor gets his wish, and steps in the boxing ring with Mayweather, Ferguson says he wouldn’t blame him for taking the big payday. Then again, if boxing’s what McGregor wants to do, Ferguson said he’d accommodate him.
“No, I mean if he’s all about business and being a punk he needs to vacate that belt but, I don’t know,” he said. “If you want to box, let’s go. I’ll box you.
“That dude would get eaten up on his feet.”