Tony Ferguson has called for Khabib Nurmagomedov to be stripped of his UFC world lightweight title following his withdrawal from their UFC 249 main event.
The pair were set to clash on April 19, at the fifth time of asking, however, the champion confirmed last night that he would not be defending his title this month due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Ferguson claimed that Nurmagomedov’s latest withdrawal should see him stripped of his UFC title.
“The guy does not want to fight. He’s scared, he’s running, he should be stripped of his title.”@TonyFergusonXT gives @arielhelwani his reaction to Khabib's apparent withdrawal from #UFC249 on @SportsCenter pic.twitter.com/B1Sx2gPQq6
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 1, 2020
Ferguson claimed that the champion does not want to fight him out of fear.
“Obviously, I was very upset. I feel more for everybody else that’s actually going through some hard times.
“It’s a little bit different unfortunately with this, he was in Abu Dhabi and had to cancel in order to be able to come back before the borders were closed in Russia.
“He decided to go back to Dagestan, he did not finish his camp. The guy does not want to fight, he’s scared, he’s running. He should be stripped of his title.”
Nurmagomedov was initially in the United States training for the April bout with his team at American Kickboxing Academy [AKA] in San Jose, however, as the pandemic worsened, the champion returned home to Dagestan.
Ferguson claims that the champion is running from him just like he did at UFC 209 where Ferguson claims Nurmagomedov stopped cutting weight because it got too difficult.
“I would say either-or. I’m always down to fight, anybody, any time, anywhere unless the circumstances are completely different. The fight is against Khabib man. This is the guy that everybody just wants to fight.
“I get what he wanted to do, you know, obviously, he was here and his family was back home in Dagestan. It is what you got to do but he had the opportunity and he did the exact same thing at UFC 209.
“He knew that he wasn’t cutting weight very good, he’d said it already that he was having a real hard time cutting weight, focusing and doing everything else.
“To me, that is running away, he ran away, he obviously knew that he couldn’t help save this card. He didn’t want to take any of those chances, you know, everybody is taking risks doing this stuff but he bailed out man. It’s pretty hard to explain but he bailed out man.”