Khabib Nurmagomedov’s plan for 2018 involves beating Tony Ferguson to win what he believes is the real UFC lightweight championship. Then, he wants to give a shot to the next top lightweight contender.
“Inshallah, when I beat Tony Ferguson, I’m gonna make [McGregor] a little bit humble and he have to stay on the line,” Nurmagomedov said. “He have to stay on the line, because he only have one fight at 155. And he want to fight for the title? No, no way. When I become UFC lightweight champ, I’m gonna say, ‘Hey, who is real contender? Who has five, six, seven win streak?’ They have to fight for the title, not for you. We’ll see what happens. But I don’t think he’ll ever fight with me. I think they understand what’s gonna happen.”
There has been some dispute over the lightweight title. McGregor is currently still the undisputed lightweight champ. Ferguson holds the interim title after beating Kevin Lee at UFC 216 in October. But UFC president Dana White said at a recent press conference that when Nurmagomedov and Ferguson fight at UFC 223 on April 7 in Brooklyn, it will be for the the “real title.”
Nurmagomedov, 29, said in the RT interview that he believes he is fighting for the undisputed title in two months and McGregor will no longer officially be considered the champion by April 8.
“This is not Conor belt,” Nurmagomedov said of the UFC 223 main event. “This is not interim Tony Ferguson belt. This is [undisputed] belt. And after when we fight April 7, April 8, they’re gonna make it official. Who wins becomes real champ. Now, Tony Ferguson is still interim champion. And Conor McGregor, they call him champion, but he isn’t champ. Whoever wins is gonna become real champ.”
Nurmagomedov (25-0) is coming off a dominant unanimous decision win over Edson Barboza at UFC 219 last month. “The Eagle,” who still has never tasted defeat in a decade as a pro MMA fighter, said he will be very confident going into the Octagon with Ferguson.
“I don’t think he has better jiu-jitsu than me, better grappling,” Nurmagomedov said of Ferguson. “I think he’s unpredictable a little bit. He has very good knee, very good elbow. But I don’t think he ever fight with somebody like me, who have like pressure, top control, good everywhere. Strong. When we go to the cage, when cage close, we’re gonna show this. Me and Tony Ferguson is different level.”