UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov admits that he doesn't quite 'understand' his upcoming opponent Tony Ferguson, but says that it will be business as usual when the cage door slams shut in April.
Nurmagomedov has been here before. On four prior occasions, a proposed fight with top 155lb contender Tony Ferguson has been booked and four times it has fallen through.
With each cancellation, the groans from fight fans grew more audible. Was the fight cursed? Are these two men, who are among the two most in-form fighters on the roster, destined to never step into the cage with each other?Also on rt.com 'Khabib won't stray from his father's plan': Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov details son's strategy ahead of Tony Ferguson fight (VIDEO)
The fifth time may be the charm. Nurmagomedov and Ferguson are scheduled to fight each other in New York in April. Ahead of their blockbuster showdown, the UFC's 155lb champion outlined to RT Sport just how momentous this fight will be for the weight class.
"This is a 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."
Ferguson has posted a 12-fight winning streak at 155lbs dating back nearly eight years – the same number of consecutive wins posted by Khabib during his UFC tenure to date.
Their rivalry isn't marked by the same type of animosity which has defined Khabib's blood-feud with Conor McGregor – but even if those negative thoughts don't exist, Nurmagomedov says that Ferguson is a tough read.
"I don't have nothing personal with him, you know?" he said.
"Tony is a 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."Also on rt.com UFC 249: Khabib Nurmagomedov to kick off his training camp for Tony Ferguson at his brand new gym in Dagestan