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Tony Ferguson: No ‘black cloud’ or ‘curse’ over fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov

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Tony Ferguson
Tony Ferguson
Esther Lin/MMAFIGHTING

Tony Ferguson doesn’t believe in curses.

Superstitious folks seem to think that the long-anticipated matchup between lightweight standouts Ferguson and Kahbib Nurmagomedov is jinxed. They got more ammunition for their belief when the bout, which was scheduled to headline UFC 223 in Las Vegas on Saturday night, fell out for an astounding fourth time Sunday.

But Ferguson, whose ruptured lateral collateral ligament forced the latest fallout, said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he’s not buying any “curse” talk.

“I don’t think there’s a black cloud, or a curse, or anything, Ferguson told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani. “Even though it’s hard to deny four canceled matchups between myself and Khabib. It definitely sucks. Everyone wants this fight. Sh*t happens.”

For those who have lost track, Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were first slated to meet at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale in Dec. 2015. Nurmagomedov pulled out due to a back injury, and Ferguson beat replacement Edson Barboza via second-round submission. They were slated to meet again four months later at UFC on FOX 19, but a lung illness forced Ferguson out, and Nurmagomedov defeated late sub Darrell Horcher.

Last March, the duo were set to fight for the interim lightweight belt at UFC 209, but Nurmagomedov’s weight cut went wrong and he was pulled the day before the out.

The latest episode, which ended up with Nurmagomedov to possibly battle someone else at UFC 223, now means both fighters have pulled out twice. And while UFC president Dana White says he’s moving on from trying to book the bout, Ferguson still wants the matchup.

“Look, we’re two and two pulling out of match,” Ferguson said. “Our pulling game is strong. All jokes aside, sometimes coincidences cause us to try to make sense of it all. I don’t think this matchup is cursed but we have to go out and prove that.”

Ferguson, who is on a 10-fight win streak, knows how much the fans wanted to see the matchup between himself and the 25-0 Nurmagomedov, which only made it all the more difficult to withdraw from the fight date.

“I was gonna stay in the fight 150 percent even if I had to cut my leg off and beat him with it,” Ferguson said. “But it was out of my control. The doctors couldn’t clear me. You don’t think I wanted to make millions of dollars for my family? That’s what I would have made. Millions. I am the champ. I am defending my belt. I was going to get a piece of the pay-per-view and I was going to end the debate and give the MMA fans exactly what they wanted with this matchup.