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Tony Ferguson says he didn’t accept late replacement, because UFC ‘wanted to cut my pay’

Tony Ferguson
Tony Ferguson said the UFC wanted to cut his pay to fight someone other than Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Tony Ferguson said he was willing to fight after Khabib Nurmagomedov dropped off UFC 209, but didn’t like what the UFC was offering.

“El Cucuy” said Friday on FS1’s weigh-in show that the UFC offered him less money to fight a replacement opponent, like Michael Johnson, in the UFC 209 co-main event and he turned it down. The interim lightweight title was also taken off the table, Ferguson said.

“They wanted to cut my pay,” Ferguson told interviewer Megan Olivi. “They didn’t want to offer me a title shot. They didn’t want me to do anything along those lines. I understand it’s a business. But I’m a man, I have a family to support and [I understand] the business, but the time and effort that I put into this — especially Khabib — it just kind of sucks. It’s just a really, really crappy thing to go through.”

Ferguson, 33, said he was also having a hard time making weight. He said he was 2-1/2 pounds off Thursday. On Friday morning, Ferguson said he was still 1-1/2 pounds away from the 155-pound minimum, but went for a run in a sauna suit with his coach and lost the weight.

After making the weight officially, Ferguson said he wasn’t feeling that great and laid down for a nap. When he woke up, Ferguson saw the looks on the faces of his family and friends and wanted to know what was going on. That’s when they told him Nurmagomedov had to be taken to the hospital in the morning and was out of the fight.

“I can’t even say how I felt,” Ferguson said. ... “It’s still kind of a hard pill to swallow. I prepared really hard for this fight and I know he did, too. It sucks, man.”

Ferguson (22-3), who has won nine in a row, said he wanted to text Nurmagomedov to wish him well, but didn't have his number. So he messaged him on Twitter.

“I know he’s a true warrior,” Ferguson said. “He’s gonna bounce back.”

After the ceremonial weigh-ins Friday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Ferguson asked to address the fans in attendance. He spoke to Joe Rogan and explained the unfortunate situation.

“I thought it was a nightmare, man,” Ferguson said. “Something worse than El Cucuy. It was just some sh*t that he had to go through, this happens in the fight game. No disrespect to the UFC or to Khabib. Everything happens for a reason. This is a fighter’s sport, man. So I want every single one of you to give love to the UFC and give love to Khabib. And I really want you guys to buy this pay per view, because the rest of the f*cking card is amazing.

“Stay awesome. I appreciate you guys following me on the way to victory. I love every f*cking one of you.”

On FS1, UFC president Dana White said he understood why Ferguson didn't want to take another opponent at this juncture and acknowledged the bout would be for less money without Nurmagomedov.

“It’s devastating to get that call,” White said.

White said at a press conference Friday that he would figure out what’s next for both Ferguson and Nurmagomedov after UFC 209.

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