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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov believes Tony Ferguson is a ‘great fighter’ but doesn’t understand ‘what is inside his head’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is, possibly, the most anticipated fight in MMA history. Sure, there have been bigger fights from a monetary standpoint - anytime Conor McGregor is involved, for instance - and there have been a number of wishlist fights that have finally come to fruition - think Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva - but Khabib vs. Tony has something those other fights don’t have: a history of disappointment.

Four times the UFC has booked Khabib vs. Tony and four times the fight has fallen through. Now, the UFC is trying their luck one more time, booking Khabib vs. Tony for fifth time, as the main event of UFC 249 in April. This time though, things might be a little different.

In previous schedulings, Khabib and Tony were much more acrimonious towards one another, trash talking the other over pulling out of fights, etc... But recently it seems the talk has simmered down some, perhaps because it’s hard to hold a grudge that long without actually fighting. Or perhaps it’s because both men have to respect what the other has accomplished, even if they maybe wouldn’t get along personally.

”I don’t have nothing personal with him, you know?” Khabib told RT Sport recently. ”Tony is great fighter. Honestly, I don’t like him personally. I don’t understand his mind, what is inside his head but I don’t need this. I don’t need this. I’m going to focus on the fight. When the cage closes, I’m going to do my job like always.”

But whether he will get that chance is another thing entirely. April is a long way off and the fight is set to take place in Brooklyn, tempting fate with the notoriously difficult New York State Athletic Commission. And the this fight already has a long history of disappointing the fans.

The first time was at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale, where Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw due to a rib injury a few months beforehand. At the time, both men were on six-fight winning streaks. Then, four months later, the bout was rebooked, this time for UFC on FOX 19. Unfortunately, two weeks before that fight, Ferguson suffered an issue in training where blood was pooling in his lungs, and was forced out of the fight. Next, the fight was rebooked once again, this time for an interim lightweight title at UFC 209. Yet again though the MMA gods intervened, cancelling the bout on weigh-in day when Nurmagomedov had a failed weight-cut that caused the doctors to pull him from the bout. At this point the bout was starting to feel cursed and wasn’t booked again for another year, this time for the undisputed lightweight title at UFC 223. The MMA gods are nothing if not persistent though as Ferguson tore a ligament in his knee just a week before the event.

All told, both Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have fought six different opponents since they were first scheduled to face each other, running their respective winning streaks to 12 and both claiming gold in the process (Ferguson’s interim belt was vacated). It’s a set up that has Khabib’s father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov calling this the most important fight in UFC history and the lightweight champion is hopeful that this time, it may actually happen.

“This is very important fight for UFC, for fans, for me, for Tony,” Nurmagomedov said. “That’s why we signed this agreement. I hope finally we’re going to fight in April.”

So does everyone else.


MUST-READ STORIES

Rematch. Dana White targeting Khabib vs. McGregor 2 if both win upcoming fights, Justin Gaethje responds.

Beef. Kamaru Usman fires back at Colby Covington over PED accusations, insults about Glenn Robinson.

Boxing. Dana White reveals talks with Claressa Shields about potential showdown with Amanda Nunes.

Short notice. Frankie Edgar explains why he asked for short notice fight against ‘The Korean Zombie’, sends a message to Cory Sandhagen.

Fight. Leon Edwards on potential Tyron Woodley bout: ‘He says he’ll fight, but not in London’.


VIDEO STEW

UFC 245 Athlete Panel.

Kelvin Gastelum interview.

Embedded 3.

Jose Aldo’s best finishes.

The legacy of Amanda Nunes.

Anatomy of a Fighter.


LISTEN UP

Heavy Hands. Breaking down the big fights at UFC 245.

Mookie & Crookie. Discussing UFC DC, Liz Carmouche’s release, and some boxing talk.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Gaethje is not here for it.

Everyone on the same page about Colby.

Poirier ready to fight Colby.

Perfect records.

Well, he’s half right.

New deals.

Damien Brown wants an openweight tournament and I support this.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

John Gotti III (4-0) vs. Marcos Lloreda (7-5); CES 60, Jan. 24.

Charles Cheeks III (14-7) vs. Matt Bessette (23-9, 1 NC); CES 60, Jan. 24.

Johnny Lopez (12-4) vs. Blaine Shutt (7-4); CES 60, Jan. 24.

Sergio Pettis (18-5) vs. Alfred Khashakyan (11-4); Bellator 238, Jan. 25.

Montana De La Rosa (10-5) vs. Mara Romero Borella (12-6); UFC Rio Rancho, Feb. 15.

Mark De La Rosa (11-3) vs. Raulian Paiva (18-3); UFC Rio Rancho, Feb. 15.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL

Poll

Who wins this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Amanda Nunes
    (970 votes)
  • 17%
    Germaine de Randamie
    (211 votes)
1181 votes total Vote Now

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