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24 Feb, 2019 11:01

Khabib takes dig at Ferguson over snubbed UFC interim title fight

Khabib takes dig at Ferguson over snubbed UFC interim title fight

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says fellow 155lb fighter Tony Ferguson has “missed his chance” by snubbing the opportunity to face Max Holloway for the interim title.

Ferguson is said to have passed up the chance to face featherweight king Holloway for the interim lightweight bout while reigning champion Nurmagomedov sits out a nine-month suspension over the UFC 229 fracas.

With ‘El Cucuy’ ruling himself out, the UFC announced that Holloway would instead meet fellow US fighter Dustin Poirier in the UFC 236 headliner on April 13 in Atlanta, with the winner likely earning a shot at Nurmagomedov.

Also on rt.com UFC reveal Poirier v Holloway interim lightweight title bout, winner earns shot at champ Khabib

Ferguson, who owns a 24-3 record, is viewed by many as the deserved next-in-line to face Nurmagomedov.

The American is on an 11-fight win streak and made a successful return from knee surgery in October, when he beat Anthony Pettis on the same card as Nurmagomedov versus Conor McGregor.    

READ MORE: UFC 229: Ferguson beats Pettis in brutal slugfest, launches scathing attack on McGregor

Ferguson previously held the interim belt in October 2017, but was later stripped of it after injuring his knee before he was due to face Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April 2018.

Earlier in the week, Ferguson hinted that he had been offered another shot at the interim belt against Holloway, but said “we deserve better” and that it was “champ s*** only.”

That’s a stance Nurmagomedov has taken issue with, citing his own setbacks before reaching the 155lb pinnacle.

“I want to remind you guys, that before I become champion, I was close to the title fight 3 times and all 3 times I missed my opportunity,” Nurmagomedov posted on social media.

“…But after every single fail I were said: you missed your chance, earn your shot with one more victory,” he added.

“Tony you had your chance and you missed it, and that’s your fault only.

“You know that I’m disqualified and can’t fight, but it’s not fair to strip me off the title, I fought 3 times in 9 months. I won and defended my belt.

“As a fighter you deserve a title fight, you are great fighter and opponent, but now you have to fight or wait for my DQ to be over and fight(but UFC doesn’t want it).

“I don’t understand your offenses, if you fell down, you got to get up, not complain.”

Undefeated Russian fighter Nurmagomedov has vowed not to return until October, when two of his teammates have served their 12-month suspensions over the post-fight brawl that marred the win over McGregor.

READ MORE: ‘They allow prostitution & drugs’: Khabib snubs Nevada ban reduction offer in scathing attack

Awaiting him will likely be the winner of the bout between Holloway and Poirier. The pair are two of the most in-form fighters on the UFC roster; Hawaii native 'Blessed' Holloway has won 13 straight fights since his August 2013 decision to McGregor, while ‘The Diamond’ Poirier has lost just once since moving up to lightweight. 

Also on rt.com UFC 231: Holloway beats Ortega to retain featherweight title

The Holloway-Poirier match-up will be a repeat of their February 2012 bout at featherweight, which Poirier won by submission.

UFC 236, which will take place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, will be co-headlined by another interim middleweight title bout, the middleweight clash between Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya.

Also on rt.com 'Khabib wanted it, I wanted it': Georges St-Pierre details breakdown of Nurmagomedov superfight