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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov hints at not giving Conor McGregor title shot if he beats Tony Ferguson

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Khabib Nurmagomedov and Edson Barboza Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Last week, the UFC announced that interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson will fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223. At the moment, the fight will be contested with Ferguson’s interim title on the line, but UFC President Dana White has made it known the if actual lightweight champion Conor McGregor doesn’t return to the UFC soon, the organization will strip him of the belt and allow him first crack at the title whenever he chooses to return. But that might not be so easy.

Speaking at the MetroPCS UFC 220 Livestream over the weekend, Nurmagomedov said that after he beats Ferguson, McGregor will not be a top priority for him and that the current lightweight champion will have to “get in line” to earn a shot at the title.

“I’m gonna make humble Conor,” said Nurmagomedov. “I’m gonna beat Tony and I’m gonna say to Conor, ‘Hey, you have to go into the line,’ because you have to deserve this. He has only one fight at 155. I am 25-0 at 155. Undefeated. Undisputed.

“I’m going to take this belt, and we’ll see what happens.”

Nurmagomedov’s willingness to pass on a McGregor fight stands in stark contrast with almost every other person in the sport. Since his ascension to global superstar, McGregor is by far the most common name mentioned by fighters looking to score a big payday. But Nurmagomedov says he’s not interested in “money” fights, only in his legacy.

“I understand this. Fighters try to make money with Conor but I’m not in this sport to make money. I can make money with other stuff in Russia, like a lot of money. I come here to make history, for my legacy.”

Before Nurmagomedov can ever reject McGregor though, “The Eagle” has to get through Ferguson, who is riding a 10-fight win streak in the UFC; and though Nurmagomedov respects Ferguson as the “real champ” he’s not too worried about how the fight will go, saying all he has to do is show up and he will “humble” Ferguson.

“I have a tough opponent,” said Nurmagomedov. “Tony Ferguson, for my opinion, he’s real champ, and I’m gonna smash this guy. This is my plan. I’m going to smash this guy, make this guy humble too because he’s a little bit stupid. He’s tough opponent, very good fighter, but personality, I don’t like him.

“I have to come to show [with] no injuries, make weight, and that’s it. Somebody has to close us inside the cage and that’s it. I’m gonna beat him everywhere. My grappling is a different level than him. He thinks he’s grappling with Eddie Bravo and he’s good on the ground but I’m gonna show him.”

Nurmagomedov fights Ferguson at UFC 223 on April 7 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.


MUST-READ STORIES

UFC 220. UFC 220 went down with Stipe Miocic defending his belt. Catch up on the results.

Bellator 192. Bellator held its first big event of 2018 and here are the results.

Grapes. Quinton Jackson says Chael Sonnen “fought like a bitch” in win at Bellator 192.

$$$. Chael Sonnen expects Rampage Jackson to make good on their takedown bet.

Hard. Francis Ngannou admits he underestimated Stipe Miocic but vows to come back stronger.

Please? Daniel Cormier says he’s not interested in heavyweight title shot out of deference to teammate Cain Velasquez.


VIDEO STEW

Post-fight presser highlights.

Highlights from Bellator.

Rory getting loaded into the ambulance.

LFA highlights from Friday.

When BJJ Scout posts, you should watch.

This kid is gonna be something special. Enjoy his career.

Anderson denying the juice.

Latest of Woodley’s show.


LISTEN UP

6th Round. Immediate post-fight reaction to UFC 220.

Fights Gone By. Recapping UFC 220 and Bellator 192.

Luke Thomas. Immediate post-fight reaction to UFC 220.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Taking it in stride.

Flexing.

The metamorphosis of Chael from boring guy, to star, and now to trying too hard gimmick is quite the journey.

Man, Rory is making a habit out of getting mauled.

Douglas taking it well.

Lots of respect from the Bellator guys this weekend.

Not gonna lie, I thought this was Master Chief at first.

Royce with words for his son who lost his debut this weekend.

Start calling him “George”


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Thiago Alves (22-11) vs. Curtis Millender (14-3); UFC Austin, Feb. 18.

Rose Namajunas (7-3) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1); UFC 223, April 7.

Justin Gaethje (18-1) vs. Dustin Poirier (22-5, 1 NC); UFC on FOX, April 14.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

2011: Mark Hominick earned a UFC featherweight title shot by knocking out George Roop at UFC Fight for the Troops 2.


FINAL THOUGHTS

What a weekend! Stipe makes history, cements himself as the best guy not named Jon Jones, and Rory finally gets a belt. Oh, and Chael outwrestled Rampage and I can’t tell if that’s an impressive feat or an indictment of 2018 Rampage. Perhaps it’s time for Rampage-Wanderlei 4?

Also, it is now my goal in life to get Khabib to walk out to “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar.

Anyway, I hope y’all enjoyed the weekend. We;ve got another fight week ahead of us so take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL

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