Tony Ferguson has been upping the ante, but has no problem fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov before Conor McGregor’s return.
UFC lightweight champion, and in many people’s eyes still the king of the featherweight division, Conor McGregor has taken a step out of the limelight. However his name is still the first one on the lips of MMA fans.
The latest person to comment about the future of the Dubliner is lightweight contender Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson labelled McGregor a “paper champion” in an interview with Submission Radio amongst other insights. Ferguson cited McGregor’s skipping of the line in immediately securing a title shot against Eddie Alvarez as the reason why question marks still abound over his credentials to be truly called the king of the 155 pound division.
The most interesting takeaway from what was a slightly aggressive interview was that Ferguson is happy to fight fellow contender Khabib Nurmagomedov for an interim belt which he believes would further help fuel McGregor’s first title defence which is expected sometime around Autumn of 2017.
Ferguson, who first rose to prominence by winning season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter, said that he would even be willing to return to the format as coach with ‘The Eagle’ coaching another team.
“I’m ready to sign on the dotted line and I think the UFC knows that. And I think it needs to be for that belt. I don’t think, it needs to be for that belt, damn it. Straight up, I’ve been putting in my time, I’ve been putting in my numbers. This is my time. Let’s get some heat going for this thing. Let’s do this for The Ultimate Fighter. We can do Team Khabib versus Team Ferguson, that’d be dope.”
Assuming he does hand the Russian the first defeat of his professional career, ‘El Cucuy’ says he believes beating McGregor would be an easier challenge to overcome as he belittled the Crumlin man’s skillset.
“Conor is no threat to what myself or Khabib has. I see no threat in this dude. This dude is just a lot of talk. He has a nice left hand but my solid, straight right and my left hook and my lead uppercut and my inside leg kicks and my whole repertoire is better than what he’s got.”
“When you put Conor up against a guy like me who’s unpredictable – attacking your ankles, attacking your chin and your midsection – and you’ve got Khabib Nurmagomedov who can take a punch here or there and he’s got some time off so he’s got full rest recovery in his body, he’s gonna be able to take the punishment.”
Though Ferguson is no joke, having recorded nine wins in a row, he would be wise to not make the fatal mistake of underestimating McGregor as so many of his opponents, at least publically, appear to do.
The “no threat” line in particular sounds awfully reminiscent of Eddie Alvarez’ claim that “The Notorious” was “the least intimidating man” he had ever met.
Listen to the full, fiery interview here.