Tony Ferguson labels absent Khabib a 'b*tch' as he gets coronavirus swab on arrival for UFC 249 (VIDEO)
Ferguson and Gaethje throw down for the lightweight interim belt on Saturday night at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, an event which will be held behind closed doors.
The UFC is subjecting fighters and their teams to rigorous coronavirus protocols which include swab testing on arrival and regular checks afterwards.
Social distancing measures will ensure fighters and their teams are kept as isolated as possible, with dedicated treatment and workout rooms.
Ferguson shared first-hand what the protocols involved, posting a video to his social media accounts which showed a swab being inserted up his nose - to his apparent discomfort.
'El Cucuy' and his team were among the first to arrive at the fighters' hotel while opponent Gaethje is expected on Wednesday as others on the card such as bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo also fly in.
While gearing up to face Gaethje, Ferguson - who is unbeaten in 12 fights spanning eight years - also had some choice words for lightweight ruler Khabib, the man he was originally scheduled to face at UFC 249 on April 18 before the Covid-19 chaos scuppered the bout.
“F*ck Khabib. I’m going to be real,” Ferguson said in a pre-fight video press conference.
“I want to say f*ck Khabib. I’m defending my belt for the third time. This is for the real belt. This is not for an interim title. This is for the real championship sh*t. It’s champ sh*t only, buddy.
“That dude’s a b*tch. I’m going to be real. Him and McNuggets (Conor McGregor). They both need to f*cking retire. The only two real men out there are going to be me and Justin Gaethje. American motherf*ckers.”Also on rt.com 'Khabib is a button-masher': Tony Ferguson says Nurmagomedov has NO technique and questions champ's fitness ahead of UFC 249 scrap
Gaethje - who is 21-2 overall and is on a three-fight streak heading into Saturday night - said he is "100 percent confident in his ability to put Ferguson to sleep," adding that he is even hoping Ferguson can do him a favor by breaking his nose.
"Tony’s used to people being scared of him. I’m not scared," 'The Highlight' told TMZ Sports.
"I hope he breaks my nose. I’ve been waiting to get it fixed. It hasn’t been right for like 12 years, so I’ve been waiting for a long time for someone to break my nose, so maybe he’ll plant an elbow on there."
"I might regret asking for that 'cause it’s a painful injury, but I do need to get it fixed... I’m 100% confident in my ability to put him to sleep."
When the pair step into the octagon on Saturday night, they will have the eyes of fight-starved fans around the world fixed upon them, and that may well include a certain Dgaestani and a man in Dublin.Also on rt.com 'Our neglect has helped the disease spread': Khabib issues plea for fans and fellow Dagestanis to heed coronavirus lockdown advice