Former UFC Interim Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson, who was scheduled to face Nurmagomedov at UFC 249, wants Nurmagomedov stripped of the title.
“Obviously, I was very upset,” Ferguson said to Ariel Helwani of ESPN (via Damon Martin of MMA Fighting). “I feel more for everybody else that’s actually going through some hard times. It’s a little bit different, of course, I’m a little bit pissed. He had the opportunity to stay here. He was in Abu Dhabi, he had his chance to be able to come back before the borders were closed in Russia. Decided to go back to Dagestan, 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.”
Ferguson is still scheduled to fight on the UFC 249 card and reports have stated that Justin Gaethje could be the late replacement opponent.
The former interim lightweight champion also believes that Nurmagomedov ran away and bailed out of the UFC 249 title defense.
“I’m more down to fight than anybody, any time, anywhere unless the circumstances are completely different,” Ferguson said. “The fight’s against Khabib. This is the guy. Everybody just wants this fight. I get what he wanted to do. Obviously, he’s here, his family is back home in Dagestan, it is what you’ve 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 said it already that he was having a hard time cutting weight, focusing and doing everything else like that. To me right there, he’s running away. He ran away. He obviously knew what he could do to help save this card. He didn’t want to take any of those chances. Everybody’s taking risks. He bailed out. It’s pretty hard to explain but he bailed out.”
UFC 249 takes place on Saturday, April 18 from a location to be announced with Tony Ferguson and an opponent to be announced headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.