During a scrum on Wednesday, UFC president Dana White told members of the MMA media that a mooted fight between top 155-pound contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will not be happening.
With lightweight champion Conor McGregor taking a hiatus, the length of which we still can’t be sure about, it seemed certain that the terrifying pair would tussle to decide the Irishman’s next challenger and possibly determine an interim titlist to reign in his absence.
However, MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani reported just before Christmas that money issues were threatening to derail the bout.
White has now confirmed that such issues have indeed scuppered the showdown.
“So we were trying to make that fight — Tony said he will not do that fight unless he makes the same exact money that Khabib makes. Khabib has a different deal,” said White. “That ain’t happening. Count that out.”
“He has a contract that he just signed. Not long ago. There’s a thing where these guys, I honor every contract no matter what it is. I get into some (expletive) deals, too. You’ve got a guy who’s making tons of money but he was a champion, but that was the deal I cut. I cut that deal and I signed it and I’ve got to live with my deal(Transcription via Fox Sports).”
White also confirmed that Nurmagomedov had been offered a fight with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in place of Ferguson, but that his father, Abdulmanap, vetoed the bout.
“[Aldo] did ask for Khabib,” White said. “He wanted to fight Khabib cause Khabib is looked at as the guy in that weight division. Khabib’s dad didn’t want him to fight. Khabib’s dad wants him to rest(via BloodyElbow).”
On Thursday, Nurmagomedov took to Instagram and, seemingly in response to White’s comments, authored a lengthy rant. The Russian wrote that he was willing to fight anyone in his division but suggested that there is little to be gained from a bout with Aldo, before he urged the UFC to make the fight that “the world is waiting for” between he and Ferguson.
One can certainly see where Nurmagomedov is coming from and you have to admire the fact that he is so determined to face Ferguson, undoubtedly the most dangerous opponent available at present.
This message to @UFC : It is clear to everyone that you hiding Conor from me. But stop lying to your fans like I don’t want fight with Aldo, I’m ready to fight with anyone in my division. Give me relevant fight, so you won’t be able to hide the belt from me after. But not the fight, where people say after my victory: he is too small, Khabib too big for him etc. I’m asking you for match that whole world is waiting for, give me Tony. You have never matched up two guys with 9 and 8 win streak in UFC, NEVER IN UFC HISTORY. #telltruthtopeople ❗ Хочу обратиться к @UFC : Всему миру понятно что вы прячете от меня Конора, но не надо рассказывать свои сказки фанатам, перестаньте врать типо я не хочу боя с Альдо, я готов драться с любым бойцом в моем весе. Дайте мне конкурентный бой, после которого вы не сможете прятать от меня пояс. А не тот бой, чтоб люди говорили после моей победы: Он же маленький, Хабиб слишком большой для него и т д. Сейчас я у вас прошу бой, которого ждёт весь бойцовский мир, дайте мне Тони. Вы в своей истории не проводили бой между двумя бойцами у одного из которых 9 побед подряд в рамках UFC а у другого 8 побед. #говорителюдямправду #юфсишныеигрыопятьвтеме