March 4th 2017 is a date that MMA fans everywhere are anticipating with great fervour, as that Saturday in early spring will play host to UFC 209.
Taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the card is headlined by an intriguing welterweight title rematch between Tyron Woodley and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
However, despite the fact that it’s the legitimate title fight, the sequel to an enthralling original, and the official main event, it may actually be less responsible for the scalding temperature of fan anticipation than the evening’s co-feature – an interim lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
In complete contrast to the respectful rivalry between their welterweight counterparts, Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have engaged in a vitriolic feud, lambasting each other with gusto and regularity. Nurmagomedov has even threatened to break Ferguson’s arm if he gets the chance.
As distasteful as some might find it, talk like that is always going to build hype.
Aside from all the torrid trash-talk, this is also a match-up of genuine badasses. The pair come into this tussle riding lengthy, impressive and destructive winning-streaks. Tony has won nine in a row under the UFC banner, while Khabib has won 24 straight since turning professional, with the last eight of those victories coming in the world’s premier MMA promotion.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the winner will earn himself a crack at Conor McGregor. It should be stressed, however, that the word used there was ‘earn’ not ‘guarantee’.
Still, it’s fairly easy to understand why this fight has captured the imaginations of so many.
Easy for everyone, that is, except the aforementioned McGregor.
During his Pay-per-view interview with Ariel Helwani at the end of last month, ‘The Notorious’ Irishman had nothing but words of derision for the UFC’s top two lightweight contenders.
“The two guys who are fighting for that interim belt are bums,” said the reigning 155-pound king. “I always look at the game, the fight game in the UFC, and sometimes I wonder to myself why it’s never broken through to that next level, why no one before me has ever gotten to that next level. Because they’re all dogsh*t.”
“They’re sloppy, messy, chinny. It’s not pretty to look at, and it’s the same with these two clowns. Two bums fighting for an interim belt. They should be very happy that I’m chilling now, taking a break, and they have this little chance to think that they’re up there. But in reality, they’re nowhere close. They both would be knocked out stiff. Both chinny, both wild, too sloppy(via MMAFighting).”
Given how disrespectful McGregor was of ‘The Eagle’ and ‘El Cucuy’ in Manchester, it came as absolutely no surprise when Ferguson decided to take a shot at the SBG representative on Twitter today.
In response to a typical McGregor post – a picture of the Dubliner preparing to launch an attack on Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 accompanied by the line ‘I am the ghost’ – Ferguson wrote “@TheNotoriousMMA Paper Champ Who Thought U Could Walk Away From MMA #MoneyMadeYouSoftMcnuggets I Bet You Fade Like A Ghost.”
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) February 6, 2017
It will be interesting to see if McGregor chooses to issue a riposte.